What is Freedom?

Think about freedom for a moment. Try to picture it.

I always think of a blue bird flying at the base of a mountain without a care in the world. But what does it truly mean to be free? Next to democracy and love, freedom is undoubtedly one of the ambiguous words in the English language.

Surely the people of China, Iran, and North Korea have less freedom than us. Free speech rights are restricted and penalties are harsher. But are we in the US, as well as other developed nations, really more free? I can’t drive as fast as I want nor walk around without clothes on. I don’t really have freedom.

But perhaps my lack of freedom is actually a good thing. Speed limits are set in place for safety. Walking around au natural will surely offend a great deal of grandmothers. Taking what doesn’t belong to me, something else I’m not allowed to do, would also hurt others. Our freedom is restricted for the sake of others.

That’s the entire point of the unwritten social contract that all citizens have signed. Some rights are taken away in order to protect the order of society. But other freedoms– far more important freedoms– are preserved. We can say anything we like [within reason] would fear of retribution. We are entitled to our own property and happiness.

So while our freedom is indeed restricted, it is justly so. The majority of laws align with our morals. We have an innate knowledge that theft, murder, and belligerence is bad. The freedom to act in such ways would go against our morals. So in essence, we are free. QED.

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