What is Freedom?

Derived from Old English, the term “freedom” is defined as the power of self-determination. Historically, it stands for our emancipation from slavery. (The term slave originated from the word “slav”. It was conceived during the ninth century, when the slavs, natives to large parts of Central Europe, were taken captive by Muslims from Spain) Conversely, from a philosophical perspective, freedom implies to live in a state of free will, but what does that actually mean? For example, when we walk into the local supermarket, we are free to purchase any item on the shelves. Yet, our choices are limited to the products available in the store, regardless how many toxic additives or preservatives that they may contain. When we participate in an election, we are free to vote for whomever we choose. Yet again, our choices are limited to those few government representatives up for election. Although these are just a couple of examples, how free our will truly is depends on our perception to a limited extent. Within the confines of cause & effect, every event that led to present-time is predetermined with one simple exception. Right now, we are free to choose anything and everything, if we dare to realize the infinite potential of the present moment. For instance, we may choose to consume processed food with additives such as Glucose-Fructose Syrup or we have the option to grow our own. Still, every time we make a decision, cause & effect inevitably takes over. This leads us to the question, what is freedom? In 1570, it was legally interpreted as the possession of particular privileges. We may firmly believe, times have changed, but have they really?

The laws, we live by, may be more heavily enforced on a global scale regardless of wealth, class or ethnicity. Meanwhile, in every area of society, reported crimes remain unprosecuted and various activities are not classed as criminal offences. Truth be told, laws change. What was legal long ago is frowned upon at this time. For instance, in 1775, the British parliament prohibited the use of lipstick following the statement that it has the power to seduce men into marriage, which was classed as witchcraft. For the sake of security, we must naturally sacrifice certain personal liberties, perceived as injurious to our fellow man. Dependent on the state of our society, what we perceive as a threat equally changes. Surprisingly, in present day with the risk of another terror attack just around the corner, our laws have remained the same. In fact, the desire to relocate more economic refugees has become more profound. After 9/11, the introduction of extraordinary rendition appeared to be a justified measure. This policy resulted in the torture of civilians without actual links to terror organisations, while it also presumably allowed the U.S. government to prevent various forthcoming attacks. Although there are no justifications for the torture of civilians, military personnel from any nation is trained to withstand “normal” as well as enhanced interrogation, hence it may be necessary to obtain vital information. Whether the ends justify the means under extreme circumstances is debatable, what is certain is that we have control over our actions. What happens now varies according to what has happened in the past, but in this very moment, we have a choice that will determine our future. We can turn the other cheek as a show of compassion, which others may perceive as weakness or strength. We can protect others from needless suffering with reasonable force. In any eventuality, the consequences of our actions are ours to bear. From a legal perspective, these consequences change concordant to the times. On a moral spectrum, the cause may become the effect, otherwise known as karma. From within the confines of cause & effect, that could possibly be an ethical interpretation of freedom…

Regardless of the cause, the effect of how we act in any situation is the same for the simple things in life. When we harm another, do they not feel pain? When we feed the hungry, do they not feel satiated? When we adhere to the cultural tradition to arrange the marriage of a child without consent, do they not suffer? In freedom, our will is infinite. But, how free we are is reflected in our perception and consequently in our choices with every passing minute. History can be rewritten. While old laws are discarded, new ones are introduced. Regime-changes are inevitable. So, when change is the only constant, freedom is hidden amongst the relative. It is omnipresent.

“Each time, we ask, “Who am I?”, we answer the question differently. Our identity evolves, as it is the sum of our thoughts, words and deeds. To be ourselves, we have to remember ourselves, which makes our very identity conditional. Each time we remember, we reaffirm our individuality. Our existence as an independent person depends on it, but we don’t exist as self-enclosed units of matter. Who we are cannot be remembered or forgotten. Our identity, as we perceive it, only appears in consciousness. Underneath, it exists in a thoughtless, wordless awareness, in which there is no “We” or “I”, just an “Amness”…simply an indescribable sense of being.” (We Are One)

Beyond remembering and forgetting, freedom is ever-lasting. As long as our personal preferences do not impinge upon the rights of those around us, liberation has no authoritative qualities, it is inherently anarchistic (derived from the Greek “without leaders”). It is reflected in our natural capacity to love ourselves, other life-forms and the world unconditionally without the expectation to receive anything in return. It denies the validity of ruling powers to obtain control over our lives, which can turn our global community into an Orwellian-style system. More importantly, freedom existed prior to our belief in the concept. For as long as we believe that we can be liberated, we are not free. We are in the process of realizing a freedom existent deep within us. It was, is and will be. Needless to mention, such concepts possess their inherent dangers. They can transform into totalitarian ideologies, enslaving their believers in a cycle of never-ending violence. Yet, they can also empower us to think, question and contemplate the wider-reaching consequences of our actions. In the end, the price of freedom is eternal vigilance. There shall always be those eager to exploit free speech and movement for personal gain, just as there will be those fighting for a stateless, classless society. However, when our living conditions visibly deteriorate with the knowledge that we are headed for a violent climax of socio-cultural tensions, or even toward civilization collapse, then we must realize true liberation can solely come from within. It is a state of being, which we may elevate ourselves to and have the power to express without fear of political incorrectness. Our opinions are our opinions. No amount of shaming can silence the voice in our heads, nor can it alter the distinct patterns of our thoughts, only understanding can do that. It can gloriously lead the way from oppression to liberation without the truth as a casualty…

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