Robin Olsen has lived for half a century. No experience is a bad experience unless we learn nothing from it.
We Live in a Free Society
At least this is what we have been told right? We are told we are free because we get to vote. We are told we are free because we can choose what store to make purchases in, because we can choose which airline to fly on. We are told we are free because we have health care choices. But do these things really represent freedom?
We are told that our men and women in uniform are fighting for ‘our freedom’, in a small foreign country on the other side of the world. Is that freedom?
So what is freedom? How does one define the term?
Sometimes getting at the true definition of what something is requires us to first determine what it is not.
What do you think?
What Freedom Is Not
Capitalism is not freedom. Capitalism is an economic system. Freedom is not defined simply by our ability to choose between opposing retail outlets. Freedom comes from having the opportunity and ability to choose to produce our own. In many areas of our society this is simply not allowed at all or is discouraged by interfering by-laws and other pieces of legislation that restrict our ability to choose.
How do you see it?
Financial freedom is also not freedom. Most of us think financial freedom is having more money than we could spend. This is actually the exact opposite of financial freedom. Money is an artificial construct and all money ultimately belongs to the banks, especially in a society that has a central bank. The money can be taken from you for a variety of reasons from taxation to outright seizure of your savings accounts during times of national financial stress. There are literally all kinds of ways your money can be ‘legally’ taken from you.
Financial freedom is defined by not needing money to begin with. In western societies this is actually a very difficult place to get to as not even property you own is actually yours and when one stops paying the property tax one learns fairly quickly who owns the property.
The experience would be very similar to being evicted from a rental property.
Does democracy equate to freedom?
Democracy is not freedom. Democracy is simply a method used to select government officials to represent you. A full blown communist state can be a democracy if that is how the government representatives are selected.
In any democracy the candidate list is restricted to those a few people thought should be on that list. Democracy does not require grass roots participation.There are many examples of this all around the world.
So, while democracy may be a great method for selecting representatives, the simple act of voting is not restricted to free peoples only and choices are mostly limited by someone else.
How do you see it?
So, what is it?
Freedom is the application of free will. It is as simple as that. It is the ability to dictate your own destiny if you want to call it that. Believe it or not you can only surrender your free will it cannot be seized by force. Even the citizens of dictators have free will. They have the right to choose to follow along or not. There are consequences for specific choices but these consequences by themselves do not take away free will. Nothing can remove a individual's ability to make a choice.
So then what is meant by ‘stealing our freedoms’? This is a reference to attempts to manipulate the choices we make. To ensure that when we do make our choice it will be done in such a way as to endorse what direction society is expected to go in. When a government is interested in ‘public opinion’, for example, it is not to create laws that people want, it is to know what public opinion is now so they know how much they need to manipulate it to suit their ideology. In the end we make decisions based on that manipulation and most of us do not even realize that our opinions are manipulated.
Deterrents, corporate advertising campaigns, fear mongering, artificial exaggeration of events and political grand standing are all viable ways of manipulating opinions, but the choice is always ours.
What do you think?
Freedom is simply the act of us, as people, using our independent free will to make choices which guide and direct our own lives. That all people are free was demonstrated during the Nuremberg trials at the end of world war 2 when the defense of 'I was only following orders' was utterly rejected. Freedom exists inside all of us, we are all born this way. We are all responsible for our choices in the end. We cannot even surrender our own free will actually as the choice is always ours to make.
Only deceptive manipulation, outright acts of violence or heavy propaganda can influence our decisions. Once we learn how to protect ourselves from that we can never be anything but free.
Mark Twain once said 'Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority it is time to pause and reflect'.
You are Responsible for Your Own Free Will
Freedom is misunderstood in today’s world. Capitalism, democracy, financial security, constitutions, none of those things ‘make’ us free. We were born free. Even a slave can choose to simply not be a slave. The consequences of that choice can be pretty severe but the choice is still theirs to make.
Even if you choose not to choose, you still made a choice. No one can ever take that from you. Freedom is automatic, as is responsibility.
- OHCHR | Module 1: Freedom of conscience
Our most fundamental responsibility is to stand up and act for everyone’s right to free choices and particularly for everyone’s freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief.
- Freedom Definition & Meaning - Merriam-Webster
The meaning of freedom is the power to do what you want to do : the ability to move or act freely. See more meanings of freedom. How to use freedom in a sentence. Synonym Discussion of Freedom.
- Interpersonal Freedom and Freedom of Action
Felix E. Oppenheim The American Political Science Review Vol. 49, No. 2 (Jun., 1955), pp. 353-363 (11 pages) Published By: American Political Science Association
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
© 2017 Robin Olsen
Dianna Mendez on January 04, 2018:
Very challenging post on freedom. There are so many threads to consider, hopefully not to tangle.
Robin Olsen (author) from Rural Canada on October 30, 2017:
i think you are referring to the 'freedom to do what you want without consequences' rather than just 'freedom' - every decision we make in life has consequences but those consequences do not make decisions for us, they simply are considerations when it comes to making our decisions... you are still and always will be free to choose what ever you wish to choose
Catherine Giordano from Orlando Florida on October 27, 2017:
You have written a very interesting discourse on the meaning of freedom. Sadly, I think freedom is an illusion. Life constricts are freedom. (I'm not actually free to jump off a cliff.)Society, government, organizations all place limits on our freedom. The important thing is balance. Enough restrictions to make life possible but enough freedom to make life worth living.
Robin Olsen (author) from Rural Canada on May 05, 2017:
S. Maree - you were never without that freedom... don't let anyone tell you any different... you were born free ... I'm glad it got you thinking...
S Maree on May 05, 2017:
Wow! A LOT to think about! Thankful for the opportunity to read this. Mind, I'm not saying "freedom" to read. Still trying to wrap my head around many of the points. Been letting my brain atrophy. At least we HAVE the freedom to think the way we want!