We are never truly free, unless perhaps you happen to be a despot!
Everyday we interact with other people and that moderates our freedom in that we have to respect that other persons freedom.
As long as we live within a set of written and unwritten rules then we are free to do what we wish, bounded by those restrictions.
In other words, freedom is an illusion.
It's hard to give a truly comprehensive definition but I would say that one of the major freedoms (which is often overlooked) is the freedom to opt out, i.e. NOT to have to do stuff.
I don't think freedom is illusory but it does come with a corresponding level of responsibility and it needs to be constantly guarded against people and organisations who would try and take it away.
But what major aspects of life can we opt out of?
Come to that, what aspects of life can we opt out of?
Even the homeless destitute can not opt out of everything, they still eat and wear clothes.
I'll give you an example from my own life.
Some years ago, I had a teaching job in adult education. I enjoyed it, but I began to find the paperwork and bureaucracy increasingly irksome, and it became clear that there was an established ideological "party line" that you were expected to follow if you wanted to "get ahead".
I decided that I'd had enough, and I resigned. It meant a big loss of income but for me it was worth it because I was able to stay true to what I believed in rather than having to go along with propaganda that I didn't agree with.
But you still had to work or limit your freedom to enjoy life?
The dictionay defintion of freedom is: "The power and/or right to act, speak, or think without any hinderance or restraint." I suppose if one lived on a deserted island by ones self they could practice this. But once another person is brought into the picture, then there has to be restraint to ensure the safety and well being of each person.
As a civilized society, we can never be 100% free because we have to have laws and restrictions that ensure the well being of each other. Our constition, although not perfect, gives us those rights and restrictions that flow from the highest authority, the Supreme Court, down to the states and then to us.
Thanks for this question. I never really thought about this before. By the way, I think the Supreme Court's ruling on Citizens United, Sucks. It equates the money corporations and big moneyed intersts give to Political Action Committees as freedom of speech.
I think you got it. That is why I concentrate on 'Liberty' rather than 'Freedom' because Liberty denies the right to aggress upon another, e.g. freedom to kill another person.
'Freedom' is a very dodgy word and ripe for propaganda, e.g. Statists might say 'let's give poor people the freedom to get a house by stealing money from people we don't like and giving it to them' Admittedly a crude example but highlights well the wishy washy definition of 'freedom' compared to the clear definition of 'liberty', as it shows how you can give others 'freedom' by taking it away from others.
Also, one's person freedom is another person's slavery. The person on welfare might reject it whilst withdrawing taxes, accepting the freedom to be poor as well as the freedom to their own property. The point is not to deny another's freedom.
Speaking as a U.S. citizen, we, as adults, have many options.
We can obtain a higher education, or not. We can have a high-powered, lucrative career, or not. We can marry, or remain single. We can read anything we want to read. We can worship a higher being, or not. We can eat meat, or be a vegetarian. We can bear or father children, or choose not to. We can travel freely from one end of the U.S. to the other. We can own a home, or rent, or be homeless. We can live in the cooler climates or the warmer ones. We can fish, swim, ride horses, own pets, collect items, buy and sell items, drive all night and sleep all day, listen to rock music or classical. We can choose to live in a house, or a trailer, or in an RV.
We can vote, or not. We can belong to churches, clubs, and organizations, or not. We can own guns and other weapons. We can own a car or a pickup or be a long-distance truck driver, or bicycle, or walk. We can wear long loose clothes that cover us from head to toe, or we can wear short-sleeved tee shirts and shorts. We can cover our head if we choose, or not.
Unless our rights are trampled upon by someone else or we ourselves break the law, we are free to do all these things. I recognize that our freedom is limited, but most of the limitations are there to protect the rights of others.
Inner freedom. Freedom from emotional and mental reactions to things. Spontaneous inner joy arising, due to being free from conventional egoic reactions to things. That is really valuable, as the freedom is not dependent on exterior conditions. Harder to cultivate though, and easier to place restrictions on others though to limit their freedom!
I'm not looking to argue with anyone. This is more about just getting some opinions. So far I am enjoying the responses.
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