Exactly what is freedom?

Most of us want it. To be free. To feel free. We may even want this more than happiness, a subject about which so much has been written and spoken of late.

Freedom goes through its own stages of evolving.

When we are young (and maybe even when we are older) we just want the freedom from any rules…we want to be able to do what the hell we want when we want it, without anyone telling us that we cannot. Sleep as long as we like, go to bed when we want, eat what we want when we want, not work, not clean up…drive as fast as we want… not be subject to the authority of the boss, or the parent…the tax department…the law.

Somewhere along the way we recognise that this is not freedom. It’s license. And if we all acted like this all of the time then the effect would only be anarchy and chaos. Healthy rules are made to support society and not oppress it. I doubt that there would be any true feeling of freedom living like this. This is the realm of the tantrum throwing brat. It comes with its partner in crime, entitlement.

What then is freedom? What are we free from? Who or what is the oppressor?

A mature form of freedom is recognition that we have agency. In my life, I am sovereign. I may not choose the events that occur in my life but I can always choose how I respond to these events. No one can ever take that away, no matter what the circumstance. Deeply recognising this is the ultimate freedom. It is the freedom found by Nelson Mandela, by Victor Frankl.

On the flip side, as humans in Universe, we have responsibilities. As far as we know, we have the highest level of consciousness of any other living thing. Like it or not, with consciousness comes responsibilities. If not us, then who would care less about what we do and the effects of what we do?

Contrary to popular thought, responsibility and freedom are not polar opposites. They are synergistic partners. When I acknowledge my responsibilities as a human in Universe, to walk a path that does no harm as much as I am able, and even better, to bring more value to the Universe for my walking, when I choose this action with agency, as both a sovereign being and a person living in relationship to other sovereign beings, I am demonstrating true freedom. It is in my choosing to be a creative participant that I become free.

A person who embodies this type of freedom has tremendous value in any organisation or community. They have transcended blame and complaint. They are able to hold themselves to account.

Many times the oppressor is old and no longer healthy stories that we tell ourselves or that are part of the cultural fabric. Any story that stops us from the full measure of our agency needs to be examined.

A healthy community, a healthy business, is one that continues to ask the questions that are dangerous to the dominant narrative.

The self examination of our sense of capture is crucial to our ability to become sovereign beings.

True freedom is birthed through wisdom.

(In some cultures or parts of society the fight for freedom is real and relevant. Marriage for all, freedom from slavery, free to choose education, who you want to marry etc. This is a more overt matter of freedom which I will not be addressing in this article)

Photo credit: Creative Commons License blinking idiot via Compfight

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