what is freedom?

A very sharp student in my high school class posts:

It seems to me that one of the greatest concepts discussed throughout the whole of human existence is freedom. People are fascinated by the concept: A concept so powerful that it seems to permeate the core of our very belief. The freedom of speech, religion, right to a fair trial, or even to view source code to a program. No other singular word seems to carry the weight or impact of “free” or “freedom.”

Yet, for something that we seem to hold so dear, I question, does it really even exist? Because it seems to me that no one in modern day society is “free.” We are all bound by rules, guidelines, routine. We can’t just “get up and go”, there’s always something holding us back. Right now it’s school or parents, in the future it will be a job, a sense of economic security, or even our children or loved ones. We are all prisoners: bound by emotion and expectations from others and ourselves. Just because the walls aren’t physical doesn’t make them any less real. None of us are free.

So, I ask. What’s all the hype this…idea…if it doesn’t really even exist?

My response:

Is being able to do whatever you want whenever you want regardless of the effects upon others “freedom”? Surely there is room for rules, guidelines and routine. What matters is if those patterns exist to perpetuate oppression or are born from common sense. For instance, it would be strange to argue that lowered speed limits in school zones infringes upon one’s freedom. Sure, one could argue so if feeling obstinate. But any serious person would consider such a rule to fit perfectly well with a free society.

The question of freedom “existing” or not is interesting though. What does exist is oppression – proof abounds. Perhaps then, freedom is not something that exists but rather what is when oppression is not.

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3 Responses to “what is freedom?”

  1. Simón A. Ruiz Says:

    Smart kid. This is a necessary step, I believe, in synthesizing the idea of Freedom.

    “So, if Freedom isn’t Oppression, and Freedom isn’t Anarchy…”

  2. b Says:

    Freedom is totally (in my opinion…and also my freedom) dependent on those who are realizing or perceiving the freedom. I hear so many times a day (being a high school teacher) that people don’t have a choice, but in reality they do. Do cultural stigmas have a factor on perceptions of freedom? of course. but do you in fact have the choice to abandon all that you know/don’t know, and love/hate? Of course. Most of us just choose to stay with what is safe and comfortable. Otherwise..there wasn’t probably a significant problem in the first place to question the freedom.

  3. gnuosphere Says:

    b,

    I’ve read your comment several times now and honestly, I don’t understand what you are trying to say.

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