We wish to be free, therefore, we pursue freedom. Is there anyone who has achieved freedom? Is freedom a never-ending human quest? What is Freedom, exactly?
“Freedom is the state of being free” is a widely accepted understanding. In case of actions, freedom means there’s no restriction on our actions. Freedom is being free, and having no restrictions on our actions. Fair enough.
In reality we are intertwined with nature. Without immediate, surrounding nature and its elements we won’t survive, and therefore could not act. I think we can say objectively that we are not free. We are by design dependent on surrounding environment. We are essentially transforming with the universe, and we must adhere to its laws. There’s no escape, we’re inseparable. We are not free from gravitation. I can only jump as high as my own mass and the Earth’s gravitation allow me. We defy the earth’s gravitation by launching rockets into space. Yet we always remain under the rules of nature or the universe. There is a limit for all our actions, dictated by natural laws, or the laws understood by our study of theoretical physics. We try to conquer nature yet we define our objectives and course of actions within our limits that are dependent on natural laws themselves.
Interestingly we are not the only living beings in the universe, yet we are probably the only species trying to find out what freedom means and why it is so valuable to us. Let us consider other animals then.
Many animals have a sense of freedom, I believe. They know when they are in captivity and hence the understanding that they are free or not free. I would definitely bet for a tiger to have a complete sense of freedom – by that I mean the tiger’s understanding of its authority and territorial control, unrestricted hunting, guarantee of safety, self-assurance and so on – however it manifests in tiger’s consciousnesses it is of being free or not, that validation. Animals besides humans have the capability to feel free or assert freedom. I would assume a tiger does not have a word for freedom. That’s not a problem. Not all feelings and sensations have a word for it, for language is a shell. But the point is, perhaps freedom is a basic instinct. The idea of freedom is built into us in our DNA. The idea of freedom is closely tied to the idea of survival. This gives us some idea why freedom is so valuable to us – it gives safety, assurance of survival.
Freedom means more than just being free based on only survival instinct. Freedom means having access to what one needs in order to live as well.
Freedom means having no restrictions against our pursuit of goodness.
Perhaps it will help if we examine what freedom is not. Freedom is not oppression. Slavery is not freedom. Unlawful surveillance by state and corporations is not freedom. Our minds being held captive by mainstream media run by billionaires destroys our freedom to form our own views and opinions. Human beings like many other animals are tribal. People exploit other people and take away each other’s freedom. Tribalism is the enemy of freedom.
When it comes to thinking, since it is the precursor to doing something, it is at the heart of what Freedom means. I can think about anything I want, well, of course, thinking itself is a biological process and therefore all my thinking is a manifestation of my current biological state. I just don’t think something, there is a chain of events that triggers thinking. Thoughts are therefore not independent of our natural experience. Thinking and doing principally depends on our surrounding environment and natural laws. Freedom means someone can think freely. One must ask, are my thoughts my own or influenced by someone else? How free are we in what we think? Freedom means someone being in control of what they can think about.
As established, we do not have freedom from nature and its laws. Now that I acknowledge my freedom is limited by things I don’t control, what freedom do I really have left?
Acknowledging natural limitations, freedom then becomes a bit simpler to grasp – bound only by the rules of nature and not rules manufactured by state or any person. One might proclaim freedom within the bounds of state laws and social norms. This presents a dilemma to define one’s freedom in groups. In the communal context freedom is vague, ambiguous. The same thing in a community can be seen as oppressive and acceptable by the participants.
A person who is free has self-approval and that alone is sufficient to take actions. Being free of external control is the key to “Personal Freedom”. Freedom implies that we are individually in full control of our lives, that our lives are driven by our own semi free will.
Personal Freedom comes from self-sufficiency. This implies living free in accordance to one’s own liking. The foundations are freedom of conscience, opinion, expression, action – these must not be shaped or controlled or influenced. Someone is free when someone is free from influence. Personal freedom enables someone to stop seeking approval from the state of anyone else for self-validation. Nothing is written in stone. Truth is a process, finding truth is a journey. Free people do not stick to any particular doctrine. Free people are not influenced by popular opinion. What the rest believes doesn’t affect a free person’s belief.
An individual’s personal freedom does not exist in communities. When an individual steps into a community they are bound by its rules. This applies anytime an individual engages with any other living being. As soon as we enter a nonpersonal reality communal rules restrict our actions. In the case of human communities, the wellbeing of the community becomes our responsibility.
Freedom is the opportunity to build one’s own self according to one’s own aspirations, defying external expectations. Freedom is acting in full accordance with one’s own self.
The pursuit of freedom is a manifestation of survival instinct pervasive among relatively advanced living organisms and the natural process of accumulating goodness for oneself within one’s limits. Freedom from nature and personal freedom in communities is beyond one’s limit. A person may only proclaim personal freedom.
We may abandon personal freedom knowingly or unknowingly. So we must ponder whether we believe we are free, what freedom means to us, and ask ourselves whether we want to be free.