What is freedom really?

personal development stoicism Jul 07, 2021
image of prison to support blog post about freedom

What is freedom really?

I find this question difficult to answer.

Many, including me, too often take freedom for granted. It's not just a privilege we enjoy. It's an entitlement promised by Declarations and protected by Constitutions.

And yet, many are not allowed to fully partake of these freedoms.

Why is that?

While freedom and liberty are interchangeable terms, I wonder if teasing apart the distinctions might not help us get more precise about what freedom is (and is not)?

When we pair the word freedom with prepositions like from, to, and for, we are usually talking about rights. Freedom from want, freedom of speech, and freedom to assemble are examples. But these are really liberties promoted and protected by governments. They are rights that can be extended or taken away by others or institutions.

I think it's more helpful for difference-makers like us to think about freedom in its more personal and interpersonal applications. Here, freedom is less about rights, privileges, and entitlements and more about restraint, respect, and responsibility. While some argue that freedom is the ability to think, speak, and act without constraint, I wonder if this isn't freedom at all? That sounds more like self-indulgence.

Perhaps the antidote to this kind of freedom run amok is to understand that the freedom to explore and pursue our aims as individuals or groups should only extend as far as they can without impeding others' ability to do the same?

Isn't it possible that you are free to choose beliefs and activities that impede your pursuit of happiness?Scott Perry, Difference-Maker Coach at Creative on Purpose.

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