What Exactly IS Freedom?

Been a lot of talk about that thing called ‘freedom’ lately.  Started me thinking about some things.  What is freedom, anyway?  Freedom from what?  Freedom to do what?  Am I free?  Are you?  Are any of us?  And what is the trade-off for freedom, for there is a trade-off, a price to pay for everything, y’know.

I did a bit of thinking about it … and one thing I can say for certain is that we don’t all see freedom in the same way.  There are those, some are friends of mine even, who think freedom means you get to have a gun … any ol’ gun you want, carry it wherever you go … and use it however you want.  To them that is freedom, but wait … if they have that gun, and they can use it when and how they want … suddenly I don’t feel quite so free as I did a minute ago.  And … if my kid gets shot and killed at school by some student whose daddy has an arsenal and he snuck one out to take revenge on those kids he thinks don’t like him … then the people who think owning guns makes them free just tell me, “we send our thoughts and prayers”.  But … what good is that???  I don’t want your thoughts and prayers … they don’t bring my child back!  And then they say, “well, that is just the cost of being free”.  If that’s the cost of being free, maybe it’s time somebody did a cost-benefit analysis.

And then there’s that freedom of speech.  Now, I’m happy that I can write my opinions on this blog, and some may not like them, but I haven’t gone to jail yet, so I think that is my freedom of speech.  And I appreciate it, believe me I do, for I have a sharp tongue and if criticism and words could send you to jail, I’d surely be wearing an orange jumpsuit right now!  But … I never have and never will tell people they ought to go out and kill somebody else.  I never have urged my friends and readers to physically hurt another human being.  It seems to me that there’s a difference between calling Donald Trump or Paul Ryan a fool, and asking people to go out and hurt one another.  I keep hearing that the human race has become so advanced … but frankly, folks, I don’t see it.

On March 23rd 1775, Patrick Henry in a speech to the Second Virginia Convention is reported to have said, “Give me liberty, or give me death”.  The liberty that he was seeking was freedom from oppression, freedom from being ruled by a monarch 4,000 miles away, paying taxes to that monarchy, without having a say in the rules that bound the colonies that would become the United States of America.  Freedom from oppression, and freedom to self-govern.

Freedoms are either from something or to something.  The second amendment to the Constitution of the United States calls for the freedom to ‘bear firearms’.  But, in its present-day incarnation it has been interpreted as the freedom to kill.  The freedom to own an assault weapon that was never … NEVER … intended to be placed in untrained civilian hands.  And by so interpreting that ‘freedom to …”, the freedom from having to fear for one’s life in a school, church or shopping center has been trampled.  When you, Mr. Christian Republican, bought your AR-15, as was your perceived right, you robbed me of my freedom to be safe next time I go out in the same place you go.

In the same vein, when a person uses his freedom of speech to call for my death, as one of my readers did a while back, then that person is robbing me of my freedom to feel safe in my own home.  When a person like Milo Yiannopoulos says, “I can’t wait for the vigilante squads to start gunning journalists down on sight,” and just three days later five people are gunned down in a newspaper office … whose freedom took away whose?

We do not all define freedom in the same way, and until we do, one man’s freedom will be another man’s prison.  The Constitution, as well as other documents such as court rulings have attempted to bring about a uniform definition for ‘freedom’, but there seems to be a disconnect.  The man who has a few billion dollars in offshore accounts believes that he has the freedom to use those monies as he sees fit.  Fair enough, if the money legitimately belongs to him and was not earned off the sweat of others who were under-compensated for their labours.  BUT … how many who have billions actually earned them without trampling the freedoms of others?  Very, very few, I think.  Any?  I don’t know … perhaps Bill Gates?

As many have commented on this blog in the past, and as I myself have said, “your freedom ends at the tip of my nose”.  You like loud music?  Fine, but understand that not all of us enjoy the same music you do and don’t force it on us.  I smoke.  I have the freedom to do so, but I do not have the freedom to blow my smoke in your face, or even to smoke in a public venue where you might be.  If I can accept that I do not have a right to smoke in public, why can you not accept that you do not have the right to carry a gun in public?  Really, which is more potentially lethal?

In this world, in real life, freedom can never be complete, can never be 100%, for if it were, it would be depriving others of their freedoms.  That is a fact of life.  You can be free from a dictatorship, but you can never be completely free from rules, from laws.  Today, as we live under a ‘man’ who claims to make America “great” again, we are finding that for some, the freedoms are being expanded, but for the majority of us this has meant giving up other freedoms.  There comes a point when we must prioritize:  a right to live vs a right to carry a gun in public?  A right to have medical care for a chronic condition vs a right to pay less in taxes?  A right to breathe clean air vs a right to make a profit from mining coal?

Freedom is not an absolute.  It does not come without a cost.  Freedom for all requires compromise.  Think about it.

53 thoughts on “What Exactly IS Freedom?

    • Many thanks, John, for your kind words and for sharing this post! It was one of those that just came to me as I was doing some mundane task … either mopping floors or rolling smokes, probably. 😉

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  1. I see the problem as one of greed and selfishness encouraged by the barbaric system of Capitalism. Too many people look at life in terms of me, mine and ours. There is far too much emphasis on possession. At some point the distinction between possessor and possessed becomes blurred. I believe freedom is more a collective concept. If we don’t all have freedom do any of us?

    Parasites like donald trump view the world in a sociopathic way like Ayn Rand did. I knew a guy who was well-intentioned but extremely low in intelligence. He believed that freedom was “the right to make as much money as you can” and when I told him I believed it was something more like the right to be yourself, speak your mind, have access to basic necessities and peacefully live a life that inspires kindness without infringing on the rights of others he said I was unrealistic. He identified with Libertarianism. He couldn’t see how that mindset hurt others. He couldn’t see austerity economic policies or invasion of sovereign nations who had different worldviews than us as violence.

    Corporate media conditions us to obediently behave like the people around us instead of looking inside ourselves and seeing inherent truths. Obviously, we will continue our downward spiral into depravity if more people don’t break these chains of obedience.

    Thank you for a refreshingly thought-provoking post. Peace.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much!!! Yes, I believe that freedom goes hand-in-hand with responsibility to others. Far too much emphasis is placed on money, on wealth, and far too much wealth is in the hands of a very small group of people who have no conscience, no desire to help those less fortunate. I lean toward socialism, though I realize that it can never work in its purest form, for human greed will always make it impractical. Thanks again for your thoughtful comment!

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    • Hmmm …. there’s something for me to ponder on. Mostly, everything in life is temporary, or at least ever-evolving. For the most part, I think that is a positive thing, but what this country is evolving into today is what keeps me awake nights.

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  2. I can only add these words of Nelson Mandela to your well answered question. “For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” Thank-you!

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  3. Most of us are moral beings but we have a sprinkling of psychopaths and sociopaths among us the expert on these matters is Robert Hare and he has been at it for years. Some believe Mr Trump is a sociopath and he does bare many of the traits of that group, so it’s a a reasonable assumption. It would appear that psychopaths have a different brain scan but of course we cannot insist on scanning politicians or any other world leaders.
    A moral being can never be free or at rest within because they always consider the effect of there actions on others ; some dedicate their lives to serve the needs of those around them. True freedom belongs to the psychopath because he has no conscience and only considers his own wishes. Jesus Christ is reported to have said ‘ The truth shall set you free ‘ I wonder what that means ?
    The universe is amoral it neither cares nor uncares for any living creature in existence ; nature kills and gives life.
    Money gives us freedom from necessity and the ability to do what we want but a close examination of the wealthy shows they still struggle to come to terms with their own natures , they still seek to be valued by society even if only by those in their own circle.
    You excelled yourself in this post Jill , probing into the inscrutable nature of our beings from where all our actions originate .

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    • I had not heard of Robert Hare, so I did a quick Google search. He has certainly done some interesting work and I’ll check it out more soon. Meanwhile … oh how I do wish we could insist on a brain scan for Trump!!! How can some be so blind as to not see his true nature, to not see that he cares for nobody and nothing? I fear we have unleashed a madman, not only on ourselves, but on the rest of the world as well.

      Thank you, Kertsen! The idea for this one actually came to me as I was mopping floors on Friday … I do some of my best thinking while doing such mundane tasks! 😉

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  4. Oops, it’s me again!
    Sorry, Jill, but I have to say this: TRUE FREEDOM COMES WITH THE TAKING AWAY OF ALL AUTHORITY FIGURES, whether they be living people, authoritative ideas, the withholding of necessities, and the concept of money, to name but a few!

    Don’t all shout at once, I have heard every possible argument against what I say hundreds of times over. I am not going to address them here, I have addressed them in many places at many times.

    But, there is a price for freedom, Jill, even true freedom, as you so correctly observed:

    The price of freedom is responsibility. Responsibility to yourself. Responsibility to all others. “All others” is defined as every living being in existence, everywhere inside this universe and outside it. That is a helluva lot of responsibility. A HELLUVA LOT!!!

    But we, each and every one of us, has it within us to be that responsible. All of us working together can afford us True Freedom. Believe it. BELIEVE IT! Because until every living being not only believes it, but LIVES IT, no one can ever be free, not even me…

    And I want to be free

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    • Ooooohhhhh …. I should have seen that one coming! Well, you already know my take on that … in a perfect world, there would be no need for authority figures at all. But … as we don’t live in a perfect world, and the world we do live in is filled with imperfect and greedy humans, then there must be rules, for a vast majority of the population of planet earth will happily eschew the responsibilities that accompany rights and freedoms. For me, the key is to learn to be content with the degree of freedom I have … and I am. Now, if that level of freedom decreases as a result of a certain ‘wanna-be king’ in the Oval Office, then I may no longer be content. But at the moment, I do not feel that my liberty is encroached upon, for the only things that are forbidden are things I wouldn’t want to do anyway. 🙂

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      • Well answered, in a way. The only reason we do not have true freedom is because almost every person in the world is afraid someone else is going to screw it up for them. There is no trust. Where there is no trust, there can never be freedom. So now we have two requirements for complete freedom–responsibility, and trust. What else can others think of?

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        • I’m not sure what other requirements there are, but a bit of pondering on the topic brings me to this question: Is COMPLETE freedom really desirable? I’m not sure that I like the world I envision if everybody has complete freedom. What I AM sure of, though, is that such a world will never exist, for it hasn’t even come close in thousands of years or more, and mankind is well on his way to self-extinction long before another thousand of years can pass.

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          • Complete freedom, as in the true freedom I envision, is immensely desirable.
            And I believe as the human race matures, it will be realized. Self-extinction is the only thing that can keep us from that maturity, and is highly likely if we go on as we presently are.
            Whatever it is you are envisioning , jill, if you are not liking it, then there is something missing from your vision. But that is okay, this seems to be your first real attempt at such a vision. I went through the same process, there were so many ramifications to condider that I could not contain it all in my mind. But the concept was so appealing to me tt I persisted, and slowly that led me to the vision I have today. And discovering this vision is what taught me what real responsibility is all about. It is such a huge topic I cannot break it into pieces and say this must be done, and this must be done, and that must be done. It doesn’t work like that, at least it doesn’t for me. It’s kind of like a package deal. You buy a dream vacation package, or a cruise ship deal everything included–true freedom is like that. Any one individual might not use all that is available (I do not drink alcohol, so I do not use the all-i-can-drink part of the package, while my girl-friend is not a big eater, so she loses out on the all-you-can-eat deal, but everyone uses something, and in the end you have saved money by buying the deal, and the package seller or the cruise ship line has made money too. It all works out. That is what true freedom provides, but without money involved. There can be no freedom as long as humans have to purchase things with money, have govenments that pass laws, or have religions that separate one group of people from another group of people.
            Believe me, I know how difficult it will be to achieve true freedom, and in our present world it seems like an impossibility, but my purpose in writing about it is to give humans the vision, the goal, so-to-speak, and infect just a few to start the ball rolling. The ball has to be pushed to the top of the mountain, that is the hard part. But once it gets there, and starts going downhill, it will be unstoppable.
            I do note believe in fate, I do not believe in destiny, but I do believe that given sufficient time the human race will mature, and that will herald the coming of true freedom. My sincerest hope is we will have the necessary time…
            Someday I will tell you about the alternative, but not today, lol.

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            • Another reader had made similar comments about ‘complete’ freedom, and as I said to him, the only way I see one can achieve such a thing is if one is the only person on earth, not having to ever share or compromise with another. But let me ask you a couple of questions so that I can better understand your view of complete freedom.
              > You are driving down the road, when suddenly you come to a school bus that is stopped, letting children off. You cannot go around him, but you really don’t want to stop at the moment. How do you have complete freedom to pursue your desires without killing some kids and likely yourself in the process?
              >You are at the grocery and you want a bag of carrots for your dinner. There is one bag left in the entire store, and a lady is reaching for them. If you let her have them, doesn’t that negate your complete freedom? And yet, if you take them, doesn’t that negate hers?

              To your example of not having to use money … I need to think on that one a bit, but my initial thought is about limited resources. What happens when there is not enough food to satisfy everyone? And when winter comes, and there are no coats to be found, for the people who might have made coats in a factory in exchange for money had no incentive to do so.

              And that is as much as I can absorb for tonight, though I will eagerly await your alternative theory. Personally, I still believe that the human race will extinct itself either by continuing to destroy the environment while at the same time overpopulating the earth so that we cannot possibly produce enough food or have potable water, or else by nuclear destruction. And I used to be such an optimist! Sigh.

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              • 1. The schoolbus gambit – the first part of responsibility is do not intentionally hurt anyone. Obviously to satisfy my need for speed is to risk huring someone, possibly even me. My desire is subjugated, by intentional choice, to not hurt anyone. I stop, or i drive through the ditch. Driving through the ditch could hurt someone else, so that option is out too. But to take this question to its abdolute answer, one would not drive a single-person vehicle. Driving is risking hurting someone, or something. To get anyplace, you walk, or swim. Swimming should not hurt anyone. Walking, you must watch where you place your feet.
                2. The carrot gambit – unless one is starving, it would be my responsibility to let the other person have the carrots. I know my needs, but I do not know the needs of the other. I could ask, but why bother. There are other things to satisfy my need than carrots. Carrots are just a want.
                3. Scarcity of food gambit – When food is scarce, and need is great, the resposible thing to do is share. Throw all the food in a pot, add enough water to stretch ghe food as far as possible, and give each person or other living being an equitable portion according to their need. For instance, the sick come first, even if they are about to die. The time from the last meal a person had then becomes a factor. Those who have gone the longest without food are those with the most need. And so on.
                You are bound to ask how one would know who eats next, what is to stop someone from line-jumping, or taking more than they need. Remember, we are talking complete freedom here, and to have complete freedom, you need to act with responsibility for all. Even as the food in the pot goes down, you will sense when it is your turn to partake. You may even wait a bit longer, until others insist it is your turn. This is what true freedom entails. You govern yourself, and you accept thst others will govern themselves, else there is no freedom.
                4. The coat gambit – This scenario is both easier and harder to discuss. Since we are in need of coats, we can assume a northern climate in winter, or a southern climate in their winter, or a mountainous climate all year round, etc. Wherever, there is a need for coats. To say share is the easy snswer. If there are not enough coats for everyone, and those without them could die, someone must share. If it is nightime, and most are in need of sleep, sharing is easy. Use the coats as blankets, not as garments. One coat can cover two adults, two or three children, a numbrr of toddlers, or any combination thereof. Along with sharing the coats, those under them are also shsring their body heat. That means the more people under a coat, or a combination of coats, the more body heat that is generated, and the better the rate of survival. The same can be done if the people involved sre stationary.
                However, if the people who have the coats, though not enough, have to travel to various places, those who are travelling furthest would probably take the warmest coats. Those who have the shortest distances would tske the least warm coats. And so on. But now it must be decided who is going in which direction. And which directions sre closest to shelter, and so on.
                There are many considerstions, but none that cannot be overcome by cooperation.

                The whole point is, Jill, the consciousness of the whole world, or at least a large geographically-bounded area of it, must be changed from what we have today. BUT, this change cannot be made by someone telling everyone else how to do it. When I say “consciousness” I am not talking about being awake, I am talking about being aware. Not many prople realize it, but for as bad as is world seems to be right now, the consciousness of the species is rising of its own accord. The more that people come to realize life is not an individual struggle, but a group sttuggle, the more our consciousness rises. The closer we get to true freedom. You are right when you ssy we are more likely to cause our own destruction, that is the purpose of evolution. Species that don’t succeed die off, or change. The odds are against us as a species. But, if we can beat those odds, the odds that we will attain true freedom come down accordingly.

                I await your next round of questions.

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  5. Perhaps the question might be better put? If it were, “what exactly is slavery”?

    When money is created from nothing … banks. Fractional reserve banking. Then loaned to you. It’s just figures in your account.

    Sure you can exchange those figures for bank notes but they all require interest to repay. That’s slavery. Once they said the were worth a dollar’s worth of gold. You may not exchange those notes for gold. They are just paper. Economic slavery. Most of us are economic slaves. Guns notwithstanding.

    Kris Kristofferson put it in a song once. “Freedoms just another word for nothing left to lose” … Me and Bobbie Mcgee

    More dangerous than standing armies are the banks.
    Cheers Jamie

    Liked by 2 people

      • Jillybean,
        They are not my banks, or my bankers. They do not exist because of me and probably, they use greed as a basis for their existence? Which is why we are encouraged to subdue such things; as greed, avarice and the like. https://tricycle.org/magazine/noble-eightfold-path/
        http://www.deadlysins.com/
        The bankers that own your Federal Reserve Bank are the same bankers that own the Bank of England. Many other Central Banks also. Are you naive enough, to believe they do not collude? Collude for to maximize profit.

        Freedom? The true freedom is rising above, those human conditions. To rise above, takes will. Will is where so many fall down. It is somewhat old-fashioned? Yet Paul Bunyan’s book, “Pilgrim’s Progress”, puts the finger on how it may be achieved. From sages down to the ordinary person. We need will, to put those into practice.

        It was Adam Weishaupt that laid out the original plan for the redshield family. It is probably still being followed …?
        Cheers Jamie

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        • Yes, Jamie, I do realize they are not ‘your’ banks, else you would be wealthy and would send me money to buy a house and a car, yes? 😉 But I just cannot agree with you that every single problem in the world is somehow the fault of the collective bankers. Am I naive enough to believe they don’t collude? No, not really, but I don’t see that as the only, or even main problem. Corporate greed, the ignorance of the masses, poverty … those all contribute as well. Blaming the bankers for everything is much like those who, no matter what happens anywhere in the world, point their fingers at George Soros.

          I think that people define ‘freedom’ differently. As some define it, the only way to achieve it would likely be to be the only person on the face of the earth, not having to share anything, not having to care about another or help somebody else. I don’t view it like that. But … that is what makes life interesting, I think, that we can all have different viewpoints and still manage to be friends. Well, most of us can … I leave the avid trumpeters out of that equation.

          Cheers!!!

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    • The banks could claim they do a service by guarding our money for us and there for they have value and so must be paid . If I store my money under the bed it could be stolen or destroyed by fire .

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  6. I believe the Declaration of independence nailed it. Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness – unalienable rights. The key word is unalienable. Nonnegotiable, absolute, sacrosanct, absolute. When a person claims this for himself/herself AND extends this to every fellow human being, then we shall know freedom

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    • Far too many misunderstand that “pursuit of happiness” and mistake it for a guarantee of happiness, even if it takes away the rights of another. Happiness? What is happiness? It differs for each person, and in my book is far over-rated anyway. I will settle for contentedness and for knowing that at the end of the day, I have been the best person I could be. For me … that is both happiness and freedom.

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    • Ah … this was a semi-regular reader who dissed nearly every post I wrote, called me every name he could think of, and when he couldn’t get a rise out of me, said he couldn’t wait to see me dead. An ignoramus not worth my time, so I simply blocked him. But yes, trolls are nasty and seem to be multiplying … about once a week I get anywhere from 20-50 spam comments all at once. Thankfully, except for one time, Akismet always catches them. Sigh.

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