The word seems like a simple one, and it can be applied in many ways. “I’m free for the weekend.” Or maybe “Jack was divorced last year and is really enjoying his newly-found freedom.” We hear and use the word every day or nearly every day.
Yet when freedom is used when talking about people in a society or culture, the word is not well-understood at all.
Maybe those words from that song “Me and Bobby McGee” threw people off track–at least those who are old enough to remember the song. It at least shows how the word ‘freedom’ is thrown about with little or no thought given to its true meaning.
And of course the “true” meaning is very hard to define. This is partly because most things I have read talk about two separate realms or types of freedom: personal and political.
My focus on this site will be mostly on political freedom. It is a huge subject, one that I have spent many hours trying to better understand for myself. Honestly what has helped me most along the road to understanding the deeper meaning of freedom has been learning more about voluntarism (a softer word for anarchism) which is an abused and poorly-understood word. More on that subject in future articles.
If I put the subject out on the front page it is because I think it is an important one. it was at the forefront when America’s Founding Fathers created the U. S. Constitution. We often refer, either mentally or out loud, to things like freedom of speech. Yet I believe that most people take it for granted, assuming that the basic freedoms will always exist. At times when I have suggested that our freedoms are being eroded, others have told me “I don’t feel any less free than I did 25 years ago,” which of course just proves that people don’t understand the true meaning of the word beyond whether or not they can climb into their car and drive anywhere they choose. (And that freedom too will be diminished soon).
To my way of thinking this is a serious problem, since if we intend to fight to defend something we can’t do much if we don’t actually understand what it is that we are trying to defend. Former president Ronald Reagan probably understood freedom better than any president in my lifetime. He knew that it is elusive, and said out loud in several speeches that we need to fight to preserve it. That fight needs to be an active one; it cannot be left on auto-pilot.
I will continue to attach links here to articles and maybe videos that I think help us better understand freedom. For now I will leave the best ‘definition’ I have found (though I don’t agree with many points that the author makes). It is from the magazine Psychology Today.
Following along with the theme of outside-the-box ideas (My Lost Mind) is this article about anarchism: