Freedom – What does it mean?

I hear so many people talking about freedom. We value it so much. But can anybody ever really be free?

I suppose if you live completely on your own in the middle of a wilderness you can be free. There are no laws to affect you or compromises with people.

It always seem to me that a lot of Americans still have that frontiers mentality and think they are living in the Wild West. But we aren’t. We’re living in civilisation. Here in Europe, where things have been established a lot longer, we’ve rubbed a lot of the edges off. Things are a lot calmer and more stable. We know that freedom is limited. When you live in a society with other people you have to obey laws, make compromises and learn to be civil. Those that don’t are locked up, ostracised, punished or made to suffer.

You see nobody is free in a society. Freedom is relative.

What we have to ensure is that the compromises are good ones, that the laws are fair ones and that they work to create a society which doesn’t restrict people too much or introduce injustices.

If everybody was completely free to do as they want the roads would be undrivable, nobody would have any possessions, our homes would have to be fortresses, and the streets would be a riot of rape and murder. The bully boys would rule and nobody else would have any freedom whatsoever. Cities would be impossible.

Living in a Mad Max dystopia would not be fun for many.

As soon as people formed families and tribes they were forced to create a working relationship that functioned around restricting certain behaviours and that limited freedom. No chimp or gorilla is free to do as they want. They have to fit in with the social setting. If they don’t they are banished.

Being in love is probably the greatest impingement of one’s freedom. It is when an individual realises that someone else is more important than oneself. One is usually happy to give up their freedom. Such is the power of endorphins.

So freedom – an illusion.

Even in that wilderness is that person completely free? Aren’t they subject to a whole range of restrictions, worries, concerns, desires, wishes and dreams that could be considered a limitation of freedom?

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