I live in a place that makes proud boast that it is a free country.
And it is true that we have the right to vote, to have our own opinions and to express them – in that way we are indeed free.
Even though there are regulations governing my actions, there are those in other places in the world that would envy the freedoms that I enjoy as a citizen of this country, and rightly so.
And yet, these things can be seen as being only the outward signs of freedom. Real freedom, it is said, is felt within us, rather than being something that comes from the outside.
This is especially apparent to anyone who has been caught up in any kind of addiction or compulsion. To them, the simple relief of not having to do the action to survive is freedom that is only to be dreamt of.
And perhaps real freedom is in our souls and our minds – the ability to be true to ourselves even if we are not able to express it.
This position is both true and false – because if I am held a captive and not allowed to speak to anyone, I can be as free as I like in my head, but my body is still enslaved. And that means that I am unable to express that freedom, and unable to live in it.
Even in my free country, there are limits to how I may express that freedom – I am not free to take someone else’s property, or to take away someone else’s freedom.
And there are more subtle ways my freedom is limited too – by the very social structure that we have. Whilst anyone may have the right to live in anywhere in the country, financial constraints may stop that freedom from being exercised.
And I would like to propose that in any case, freedom is only one side of the coin – the other side being responsibility.
In a society where I am not free, then I have few responsibilities either – I only do what I am told. But if I demand freedom, I must also be responsible for the way I use that freedom. Regardless of any rules imposed by other people, it is up to me to use the freedom well.
Because freedom once lost, is hard to gain again.