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Is 'Freedom' Real?

Updated on January 12, 2013

what am I talking about...

Freedom is banded around too much these days. We talk about the free world, freedom of speech etc. In reality that notion of freedom might actually be an illusion. Throughout history people have always wanted to be free. The politicians of our time always declare us as part of the free world. We are not being oppressed; we can do what we want with in reason. Although the English do not, many countries like France and the USA have constitutions with their rights and freedoms solidified in writing whereas people have been fighting wars for freedom for thousands of years.

I wonder who among us actually realise what Remembrance Day is for. The whole country stood silent for two minutes to commemorate the people fallen to defend this countries freedom. 90 years later we, together, with all the countries we fought aside, and even fought against, still value these freedoms and honour their sacrifice. Even today we have troops fighting in Iraq to preserve the freedom of the people of that country. But to be honest do we really understand what were fighting for? The idea of freedom has just been accepted. Once that word is heard it is made an honest thing to fight for, even though it is a very difficult concept to understand.

Let us take in to account every day freedoms; you, I hope, have chosen to partake in reading this by choice. We can say what we like with no secret police or Gestapo figure recording every word we shall say. We have the freedom to stop reading this, just stop. There will be no armed guard “persuading” you to stay.

This evening you are free to watch television, choose to watch programmes that present a wide variety of views, read the newspapers, use the Internet freely. You go to bed thinking how lucky you are that you live in a free country.

the other side of the coin

However, in the small hours of the morning, it is possible that another reality might intrude, one of nightmare proportions. In this one your every move, to the school to the shops to work, to the park is watched by a myriad of cameras, there is no hiding place, apart from your home, but what about that strange feed back on the phone, are you being bugged by MI5? You have a pile of official forms on you door step demanding that you reveal all sort of personal information from you inside trouser leg to what flavour ice cream you prefer. This information will be put on file, downloaded to a high security laptop and left on a train to Brighton, truly the stuff of nightmares. It is all too much, you think a drink might calm your nerves, but not here sir this is a no drinking zone, down the pub then. Smoke sir? Not here out side with the other social lepers. You make to escape, get away from it all, a holiday perhaps. Hold on they’re testing my toothpaste at the airport, I can’t take my favourite aftershave for fear it might blow us all up. Why are they sniggering at the x-ray machine? Apparently they have a machine which gives them the freedom to see right through my clothes.

You sit on the plane and unfold your newspaper to catch up on events: conkers cancelled, its far too danger! Boxing banned! Fishing finished! Hunting halted! You begin to sweat again. Time for another drink. You hail the stewardess, “miss can I have…” she stops you in mid-sense “kindly refrain from using such sexist language” you sink lower in your seat, guiltily recalling all those who you might have offended with you rash free-speech using such awful phrases: manhole covers, Christmas, chairman, fireman!

Finally you touch down in exotic parts, pour into terminal building and look condescendingly at all the veiled women, identical in their berkers. At least we still have the freedom to chose what to wear you remind yourself as you join the other two hundred passengers waiting at the luggage carousel, all resplendent in their identical top shop rainbow tops and plastic flip-flops.

You wake up with a start, thank god it was only a dream then you are made aware of the CCTV cameras outside slowly moving in your direction. You get a strange feeling inside, suspicion paranoia, who is watching you.

I’m not saying that we are not free, or shouldn’t be thankful for how much freedom we do have. But what you do have to remember is that your personal freedoms will always be restricted in the interest of others. Total freedom is anarchy, but democracy is as far as we can go without resorting to it.


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    • jaskar profile image

      jaskar 8 years ago from England

      Werner, I agree. freedom is relative to the observer. The east and west have always clashed over this, on a global scale, and people clash in everyday life. I suppose the only real way we are free is to argue about how free we are or should be. Ironic.

    • A M Werner profile image

      Allen Werner 8 years ago from West Allis

      jaskar, you asked, "Even today we have troops fighting in Iraq to preserve the freedom of the people of that country. But to be honest do we really understand what were fighting for?" That is the real question when it comes to the idea of national freedom. Going back to the establishment of the U.S. Navy for duty off the Barbary Coast, the concept of freedom to western democracy is simply, "Thou shalt be allowed to do business whereever one darn well pleases." No government is fighting for the freedom of people. All governments want natural resources and marketable bases for big businesses - got keep the money boys happy.

      Freedom is real inside of us. Paul sang with his fellow inmates and tumbled the walls of his jail cell down - and still did not leave. He made it point to show the Roman government that he was free even when they jailed him.

    • Dutch Hermit profile image

      Dutch Hermit 8 years ago from Utrecht

      I used the word 'imprisoned' because many people want the government to keep the 'scary people' out. As if the government would build a wall to surround them and keep them safe. I think that is what a majority wants. That's the problem with democracy, if it is used as if the people would be ruling (which obviously it isn't). Anarchy seems to be a problem, but it means simply that no one is the ruler, that there is no central rule and no social order. Indeed, you've got equality, you've got freedom, but no justice. That would be my choice, of course up to a certain degree as I believe old people and such need protection. No ruler is better than a bad ruler, and I think democracy is the worst governmental system ever made up.

    • jaskar profile image

      jaskar 8 years ago from England

      Thanks, I’m glad you enjoyed it.

      I can see where you are coming from but I’m not sure "imprisoned" is the right word. We have become too submissive to state control. Political correctness and the “nanny state” are good examples. If you go back 50 years and the idea that some words and phrases were considered wrong to use would be considered foolish to even be mentioned.

      Anarchy would lead to violence so people would live in fear. I guess you have to think about the triangle of society (the idea that you need either equality or freedom to get to justice but can not have both) to see how you personally want the state to function.

    • Dutch Hermit profile image

      Dutch Hermit 8 years ago from Utrecht

      Well, I wasn't free to stop reading this article, I wanted to know it's content too badly. A great hub, and you are right on some things. Except for one. The reason we are controlled so much is because of the fear. People are not free and want to be virtually imprisoned by the state. It's what the people want. Democracy is the reason our freedom is restricted. I'd rather have total anarchy. I might die, others might die, but we don't have to live in fear.

    • someonewhoknows profile image

      someonewhoknows 8 years ago from south and west of canada,north of ohio

      It does go too far! Political correctness has nothing to do with being free. People who demand that your comments be politically correct are not allowing anyone any freedom of thought,or dissent.That's not freedom,that's coersion.

    • jaskar profile image

      jaskar 8 years ago from England

      total freedom is never possible that is ost definitely true and I completely agree that our freedoms have to have some limits. but the fact that your freedoms have to be bent to provide for others can sometimes go too far. political correctness is a good example.

    • someonewhoknows profile image

      someonewhoknows 8 years ago from south and west of canada,north of ohio

      Total freedom is only anarchy when the person who has that freedom is not able to control themselves,by disapating negative thoughts.There can only be freedom to the degree that those who have that freedom are willing to let others have that same freedom.


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