Has Freedom Lost It’s Meaning?
“True freedom is experienced when we choose to take responsibility for those things that we need to do to release us from the chains of our own comforts and limitations. It’s not doing whatever we want, but doing whatever we need to do that breaks the chains and sets us free.” Karen Berg
When we are talking about freedom, we often think: being free means being able to do whatever we want. “I want to live my life freely”, “I want to break free”, we demand, and we raise our voice for free speech as many times as we can. But ironically when someone who we don’t agree with on major questions lives with the opportunity of demanding his freedom of speech, we back off and turn to the “system” to shut him down. For instance – women’s, LGBTQ people’s or animal’s right activists often declare themselves as individuals of a suppressed subculture, but when it comes to sexists, homophobes, or fashionisas wearing fur and leather, the freedom of choice is suddenly not as important as “the right thing to do”. This is the ultimate trap in trying to be righteous: we expect the concept of “freedom” to take our side of the argument.
But freedom does not takes sides. Freedom fighters all over the world must remember: the concept of liberty is not necessarily connected to goodness and righteousness. When politicians say “Our country has the right and liberty to protect it’s citizens”, we agree – but should anyone really be “free to kill”? When in the name of free speech agitators gather angry, bitter people and talk them into violent acts as “the one solution” to gain back their freedom, do they have a right to take advantage on the idea of liberty and use it to gain power and control over others? I don’t think so. I say freedom needs to be re-invented and re-defined. I say it’s time to separate from each other “selfish” freedom, and “universal” freedom.
Subjective freedom has nothing to do with positive change in the world, because it can be used as an excuse of whoever, as a justification to do whatever he feels like doing. Objective freedom on the other hand gains communal benefits for all of us, and helps us to step forward as humanity. The freedom to bring back death penalty in Hungary, the liberty of building settlements in Palestine, feeling free to apply strick dress codes in conservative schools and punish those who don’t obay, or the liberty to burn religious books and flags of nations in the name of generalization and hate will never take us to the next level. The freedom of consideration if my selfish desire to do what I want will help others – that’s what I call actual liberty.
Freedom is a bit like God’s name. Religions, national leaders, philosophers and preachers use it as if they knew if the Creator would decide to manifest among us, he’d agree with every word they say, teach and recite. But in reality not Jesus, not Mohammad, not Moses and not Buddha has a hotline where they can be reached 24/7 to answer the questions of the faithful followers, if their concept of “Godley behavior” is accurate. Now days when – thanks to extremist believers beheading innocents in under the impression they are serving a higher source of energy – religion is becoming sort of “uncool”, the new, non-religious “God” is the concept of freedom. Liberty became the “casual God” of anyone and everyone who wants to justify misdeeds. As a gigantic umbrella, it covers up all the sins.
So if not religious righteousness and not freedom, and certainly not “just because I think it’s the right thing to do” can be used as a measure of goodness, how should we define and reason the motives of our goals? I say we stick to the good old fashioned values – instead of social norms, let us remember the morals. Being moral – in my opinion – is hugely underrated this days. Surprisingly in our age what’s moral is confused with what we accept as “normal” in our society. It’s “normal” – meaning, accepted by the social climate – to do everything in our power to fight for our interpretation of freedom. But once you start to talk about morals – like addressing our cross-purposes in a way so the constructive argument serves us all the best – you’re just a lunatic with a delusional vision of a better world.
But I don’t mind. I take the liberty not to accept the norm of mixing up fighting freedom with… simply just fighting.