CW #11: FREEDOM
What does freedom mean to you?
Wide roads, untouched nature, driving through with a motorbike. A lonely island, exotic flora, melting in the sun. Infinite ocean views, calm atmosphere, woozy minds. Endless excitement, endless entertainment, endless excess. Self-determination, autonomy, independence. No boss, no rush, no limit. YOLO, SOLO, FOMO. When thinking of the term “freedom” the list of items gets bigger and bigger. Yet what it really means is having the choice to say “NO” to all of these things. WELCOME TO CW #11: FREEDOM!
Probably there is no other subject of discussion more exposed, developed, destroyed and rebuild as the issues regarding freedom, worldwide and in history. There has been a large amount of wars waged for freedom. Countries being destroyed. Ethnicities being erased. Flags being set up to celebrate what we now call “Independence Day”. All that pain and sorrow “just” for the sake of freedom. People fight for freedom on the streets. They express their individual opinions and beliefs. They want to be heard, understood, respected and accepted. All that energy and effort “just” for the sake of freedom. Even on the job you will experience small hints of revolutionary impacts. All those things happen “just” for one reason - to satisfy the desire of being independent, autonomous, self-sufficient, self-determined, self-reliant - in other words, to be and to feel free! Isn’t it awkward that, no matter on which continent we live, we all end up wanting and fighting for the same?
To gain a better understanding of how the term “freedom” became popular, we are in need of a closer look into its etymological background. When talking about freedom we often relate to the term “liberty”, or even use it as a synonym. Yes, liberty acts with just the same purpose as freedom does. Yet there is a slight difference.
The linguistic development of the word “liberty” has wide roots. Its first appearance began during the Latin Empire where it was used as libertas meaning “freedom”, arising from its adjective liber meaning “free”. Further, the term transformed into Old French as liberté, which after was borrowed by Middle English and was used as liberte. When talking about liberty society referred to the “condition of a freeman”. Moreover people used the term “liberty” when wanting to express the right and power to believe and act without restrictions. Besides it was applied in terms of voicing one’s individual choices and being able to do so without fearing any further restraints. In other words, it was the power to act and speak as one wishes. What is more, mentioning the term “liberty” refers to specific behavioral conditions which are defined by individual life concepts. Furthermore this idea relies on certain requirements, one of which is the act of living responsible, meaning taking responsibility for one’s own actions and behavior (more information on responsibility CW #10, read here). Taking responsibility is one main essence of liberty. All this, for the purpose of personal engagement within the process of making choices, which is based on the determination of personal values.
Whereas “freedom” is defined as “the state of being free to enjoy political, social, and civil liberties”. It is also referred to as “free will”. The ability of each individual to make choices that are free from coercion or restriction. It derives from Old English freodom meaning “the power of self-determination, a state of free will, the emancipation from slavery or deliverance". As many others, freedom is a combination of two words, the stem free and the suffix -dom. From late 14th century it carries the meaning of "exemption from arbitrary or despotic control” as well as “civil liberty". Its first appearance as the "possession of particular privileges" was stated in 1570’s.
The term “liberty” is a form of “freedom” since it applies the habit of being free within society, at the same time not fearing oppression of authorities. Its societal and political background is more deep, for instance found in the liberation from slavery or from the power of another, as described above by independence. On the contrary, “freedom” is understood as a state of mind, the absence of necessity, being free of speech and action.
Some religions convey that life is a forced state. That only by pursuing specific restrictions, held in ancient writings, will lead to an after death dissolution of damnation. The same applies in certain physical researches as well as social studies. There, a forced state is linked to the idea of material co-dependency. You may think of a steady interaction between subject (me) and object (environment). Anything relates to each other, meaning that a person’s existence cannot survive without establishing a self-concept, which again is influenced and formed by external impacts. This is what we name the dynamics of being. Further, every decision we make is based not only on personal desires but also on outer conditions. The same may be said of freedom.
In a way, all of us ask for freedom. As described in the introduction, one may look for free structures at work, the other in daily routines and another one by following a particular lifestyle. Yet, all of these ideas are conditioned due to the dynamics of dependency. Therefore, “being free” requires efforts, it necessitates mental and moral qualities. And especially, it involves a state of mind ruled by certainty and confidence, to be able to merge in the society where it exists.
So, what exactly does that mean? Freedom of mind and intention is given when realizing personal desires. Thus, we are able to experience personal development. In doing so we allow ourselves to reach the levels of self-fulfillment, in modern terminology named “happy” state. Hence, talking about freedom, free will and its implementation, we automatically refer to a life idea of constantly moving back and forth between the integral of making choices. Some may be more affected by external influences, the others may be more based on personal aspirations. In other words though, personal freedom means making choices despite its aftermath. The moment you give yourself options to decide upon is the one and only sphere of influence. And that mindset is a choice totally up to YOU!
Feel free. It’s your choice!