There is so much talk about “freedom” and we may not even realise it but we utter the word along with its base word “free” repetitively in the course of any given day. It has come to the point of spawning a new description called deviational complexity. Everybody wants freedom. That’s inarguable. Our concept of freedom stemmed from the ancient Greeks’ concept of freedom, slavery and democracy.
Animals also want freedom and that too is indisputable. Though in the animal world there are no legislatures or enforcers and they’re being administrated by the laws of nature, they are in many ways, pretty well-balanced and issues seem to somehow sort themselves out. It can be rather inspiring, if not revealing, to observe the hive of activities at a watering hole where you find so many species including predators and preys all managing a drink amid heightened caution, vigilance and unease. Regardless, when the need is there and one is desperate enough, one will brave it.
The young, weak, frail and vulnerable are the firsts to fall or get devoured. Yet somehow and strangely, as if being orchestrated by unseen hands, things seem to find their own balance. Even crocodiles and hippos can establish some semblance of mutual-respect, order and territorial understanding on jointly ruling the water.
But what exactly is freedom? In certainty, it’s the other F-word and which shares uncanny commonality, in that they can mean a thousand things. What seems fathomable, at least on the surface, is that God has given all of us freedom as if it was a birth right. He gave liberty to all but Man intervened to undermine God’s intents and wishes while justifying their mortal intervention as necessitated by the need for order and control. However, it’s natural that justification no matter how logically justified it may be, does get abused.
Take our legs for instance. God gave us legs for us to have the freedom to walk and to go places just as he gave birds wings to fly. We have hands to touch and to hold, eyes to see with all that we wish to ogle or gawk at; and ears to listen at will. Besides that, he gave us the precious mouth with teeth to eat all that’s edible, a tongue to distinguish all kinds of tastes and even vocal chords further in to speak as we wish through the mouth. Yes, it’s freedom all through and look at what freedom has brought forth.
Legs have brought man onto many lands, atop many mountains, across inhospitably hostile terrain and even helped him paddle across water. Legs served as his defence mechanism too because it made running quickly away possible. Worse came to worse he could use them to deliver hard kicks and floor his opponents like Muay-Thai fighters do. Dancing was born and that gave man ideas and soon physical sports were born and there came a time where a good pair of legs can certainly earn you a great deal of money. In the professional footballing world today, a pair of legs could be worth more than a public-listed corporation. Call it physical talent if you may but certain pairs of legs that are better endowed are more capable than others. As the ladies would willingly attest, a nice pair of tapering legs is certainly a valued and well-received asset.
Look at how the world has evolved and transformed by way of freedom of expression alone. It added so much colour and essence; so much emotion and soulfulness and so much flexibility in variation and innovation with the pleasing of their senses. With the pair of hands alone, man has created so much. Aided by the sense of taste, imagination and creativity, cuisine and beverage culture bloom to such an extent that it’s totally dumbfounding. Look at all the amazing artworks and listen to all those soul-caressing music. With their hands, man has produced all kinds of wares, machines and apparatuses to bring civilization to this day and age. Immeasurable achievements have been attained through freedom that to say, that in a crux, it is mind-blowing, epoch-impacting and all that, would indeed unjustifiably be an understatement.
But freedom needs control and reasoning. Still, how is that ever to be fairly possible because control is power and power can be and often is abused? Freedom means different things to different people. With those whose values have been compromised, their vision or comprehension of freedom might appear as warped and distorted to us. Yet to them, it’s reconciling with a God-given right because they excuse that they are born as they are and that our mighty God made them that particular way. They opine that their natural tendencies, deviations, perversions, quirks and penchants are all natural-born. They proffer the oft-accepted notion that there are so many mysterious and inexplicable things in life and that oddity is normalcy for our world shan’t ever be without oddities.
A shrewd but merciless banker when asked what his interpretation of freedom is may see him uttering without any hesitation: “to apply high borrowing rates and seize defaulters at will”. Then turning to a lawyer and when asked the same question, he might pause for a while, smile cheekily and say “freedom is for there to be no objections and everything is admissible; or at least in my case”. Should you approach an advertising executive, you might discover that upon asking her what freedom means to her, don’t be surprised should she wink and reply “legalise it”. If that’s somewhat vague to you, just ask her “legalise what” and she’d most cheekily reply “weed, of course”.
Next, you might want to approach an accountant and put forth the same question about freedom. In all probability he might smile broadly before suddenly wiping that smile off his face, look sternly and be saying “to be empowered to deduct everything, I guess”. When a doctor friend was asked this, he flippantly answered “immunity from negligence”. That’s all rather understandable considering in every profession there are exceptions as there are pranksters, jesters and the marginal. Even so, there seems to be some reconcilable truths to their answers.
With casinos especially online casinos, their answer would predictably be “the abolishment of licenses and taxes”. Though the moneylender’s answer might appear to be the same as the shrewd and merciless banker we encountered earlier, and who uttered “to charge exorbitantly and seize defaulters at will”, borrowers are expected to be totally in the opposite and whose answer may be: “freedom is to pay as and when I like”.
A practitioner could very well answer that freedom to him is “to prescribe confidently and face no criminal prosecution or civil suits”. A teacher, on the other hand, could just gleefully answer: “to teach whatever I like and the way that I like”. Many employees are reasonably expected to cite “no hire and fire practice but hire only” while for employers, it might as well be “no pension funds and abolishment of labour laws, unions and costly health-insurance”. For manufacturers it might just be “no government controls, labour unions or export taxes and tariffs”.
For a trader his vision of freedom could easily be: “to be able to trade without barriers, tariffs, quotas and competition”. To some soldiers and law officers it could just as well be “no superior officers”. For a journalist who had been frustrated for not being able to convey exactly as he sees it, it’s “the abolishment of editors and censors”. When families are asked, certain men put polygamy right at the top of their list while children would say “no can’t dos and just play and play all day”. Women are rather simple and straightforward where you can expect to get “a good husband who provides well” and “my money is my money but his money is our money”. Janie was rather candid when she said “freedom is when I don’t need to tell my husband everything that I do or everywhere that I go to”.
To a motorist, freedom can fathomably be: ”no speed limit and no fines”. After all, why do they make cars that bolt like lightning in acceleration and cruise at 250kph? Fanatical hunters might say “freedom is all-year-round open-season and no protected species”. Bars, bistros, discos and clubs would love to stay open till sunrise if possible. In certain countries, nightspots are closed at 12.00 midnight or 1 a.m. at the latest – just when the fun is starting to heat up. So for them freedom ought to be no closing hours. For bigots freedom should mean to be able to discriminate at will and at random. In spite of everything, in their minds God has made certain people and races superior to others.
Bootleggers perceivably would augur for the abolishment of copyrights while for loan sharks freedom would preferably include the right to literally charge borrowers and defaulters “an arm and a leg”. To the con artist, freedom is perceivably “for willing victims to have no recourse”. To the prisoner, freedom would for sure be “physical liberty and for incarceration to be done away with”. It is easy to envisage that freedom for drug addicts would be to be free to consume all kinds of drug cocktails without ramifications; and for peddlers, it’s to “non-prohibitively manufacture with impunity”.
Robbers dwell in the mind-set of our cave-dwelling forefathers where brute force was and still is to them the order of the day. So for robbers, burglars and muggers, freedom must be “to be free to dispossess others with no law to answer to”. Similarly for murderers, it would be “to kill at will and face no retribution”.
For the rapist, the primordial sexual predator who’s overwhelmed by violent lust, freedom would simply mean “to rape at will and impunity with no repercussions” – or in other words, a “free for all”. For molesters, freedom should be “to grope at will” while for adulterers freedom should mean “the liberty to bed other people’s spouses”. For paedophiles, freedom should certainly mean “for there to be no age-barriers” while for the criminally insane, interpretation of freedom might give us disturbing new facets of revelations and manifestations that could not simply be conceived or concocted by the regular mind.
For warmongers, despots and authoritarians, freedom in reality is to be free to create chaos, unrest and mayhem. It’s to have the freedom to wreak havoc, carnage and decimation. It’s freedom to manipulate and ruin economies. It is freedom to bear offensive weapons; to rob the poor and to exert full control and the subjugation of citizenry. So what actually is freedom? Do you invade a nation to set the people free from dictatorship into anarchy? Is that liberty and freedom? Or perhaps we should start to change the tune of freedom a little bit and start harping aloud “conditional freedom, regulated freedom, pseudo-freedom, sensible-freedom, rational-freedom” or with the oxymoron “restricted freedom”; or simply a straightforward “partial-freedom”.
“Freedom” certainly means different things to different people.
In any event, isn’t freedom about having the privilege to make personal choices and decisions? Still as a society, we have to conform and live along in harmony and in accordance to societal choices and decisions. The utopia of living together in harmony is certainly never going to be attained. What is freedom for one may not be freedom for another and that limitation might be construed as encroaching into his/her sanctum and sanctuary. Just as a beautiful bird is born to fly but instead gets caged for its very beauty. Dogs are born to roam and run free but instead are chained supposedly for their own good.
In essence, “Freedom is chaos and chaos is freedom”. It is a state where everybody is free to do as they please. They may in turn tell you that doing as they like is in fact a God-given right since they are naturally born that way. So before we go about shooting our mouths about “freedom” we should pause for a while to see how ridiculous we might sound or look in trying to impose our standards onto others.
In actualisation, it is just simply “your way”, “your way of life”, “your standards”, “your preferences” and possibly “your everything else”. Is that freedom? Nah …. the last time someone checked – they used to call it “religion”.
Behold! Only our imagination is totally free!