What IS Freedom?
July. The month when, every year in modern history, when citizens of the U.S. and many others around the world celebrate “freedom.”
Freedom. The very word itself brings a resounding bolt of energy to a person’s soul and electrifies an audience with hope and vitality like few other words can do. It means many things to many people: Hope of being able to express one’s self as an individual, to make one’s own decisions, one’s own choices. Hope to live life peacefully, without unwarranted demands, without enslavement and without forced social behaviors.
Freedom. It’s a dream that the Hebrews had while they were forced to labor in the building of the Egyptian pyramids. It was imagined by the Negro slaves on the American plantations in the eighteenth centuries. And it’s been fought for by multitudes of people throughout the world by people of all races, societies and religious and ethnic heritages. Those who have what is defined as freedom in this world proclaim they would fight furiously to help those who do not have it to obtain it. Perhaps so. It’s been shown repeatedly in modern history where the U.S. and other such countries have gone to battle in recent history to overcome a tyrant and to “free” an enslaved, despondent citizenry. The goal of the battle, at least reportedly, is to set the people of the country on a new course of freedom, helping them to establish a new area of democratic government. If that is done then we are all told to celebrate this new area of freedom in the world. But, is this freedom?
Can “freedom” be adequately described in political terms? That is, can politics explain the many nuances which freedom has comprehensible with all its personal nuances? I think not. First, the term itself is much more than a political word. It is a word with a much greater depth to it than that which politics can begin to encompass. Freedom is a very personal experience. It is an experience which should be available to everyone at any time, but because it allows the individual to indeed be an individual it therefore becomes impossible for any government to be established to demand and control universal citizen freedom.
Democracy has tried. But even democracy has its limitations of controlling an individualistic right for all people which, in essence, gives everyone the universal right to be who and whatever they want to be. The possibilities of choices are just too great. Thus the probabilities of conflict caused by individual freedom increases exponentially with each person added to a country declared to be free. Simply put, if each person were to be able to experience full political and social freedom, then due to the unlimited possibilities of choices available in the Universe and the unmeasurable creativeness of mankind, the possibility of having an open society of “free” people without some form of governmental, societal controls in place would be impossible without setting the stage for sure conflict between people constantly.
That’s what the founders of the United States debated at some length before they decided that the best form of government to be placed over the citizens of such a diverse grouping of people as were gathering on this continent was a democratic form of government whose citizens chose who they wanted to represent them to create and operate their government. Oh similar ideas had been tried before. In places like Assyria, Old Rome, and even tribes of American Indians all tried democratic forms of societies. There were always problems, as is true with any form of man derived forms of government, but most of those societies were stronger and lasted longer than did other forms of government. Why? Simply because they had the support of a citizenry who believed their governments were the best for them, as individuals, as they could be.
But is this freedom? Or is there more to the feeling of being free than just not being “owned” by someone else? Is there more to it than what is in the first ten amendments in the U.S. Constitution declaring the citizen’s rights to form a militia, worship as one believes best, and other legally defined freedoms?
More? Yes, there is more. But to comprehend this we must step out of the three-dimensional limitations our bodies place us in and look at the possibilities we are all capable of when realizing that we are spiritual beings.
The reason freedom for all people is so difficult to obtain in this world is due to our innate differences. We are each created in such a way that each person is different from the rest. Thus what one person likes, or does not like, is going to be different from the next.
This can cause conflict ranging anywhere form quiet disagreements to violent discussions and possibly fights as we can trace all too easily in our world’s history or even in just looking over our own short lifespans. The question then becomes how do we try to control these diversities in thought in such a way that we can have some form of civility between one another and yet not be taking each other’s own personal freedom from them?
In other words, how do we allow each person the opportunity, the freedom, to express their own individual creativity? Is it possible for everyone to live together on this planet and still be able to live their own creative lifestyle?
Well, just being honest, we have to admit that such a high request as universal creative freedom for all is a rather idealistic one. It would simply be impossible for everyone to have their own way at all times in all places. The universal laws of physics would prevent it – simple as that.
Thus, if you and I decide to be neighbors and you want your house to be painted bubblegum-pink and I love the color blue and think your choice of color is hideous how do we resolve such a neighborly problem if we are both to experience personal freedom? Argue? Take it to court? Come on, get real.
The concept of how to deal with personal freedom was one which the early Christian Church fathers had to contend with all the time. The Jewish priests had taught the concept that in order to have a perfect society then everyone had to follow the set of laws which had been established through the centuries without question. Yet Peter, who Jesus, the Christ of God, taught that it is possible to be free from such laws (which can be said to include our current social customs) and to still have a successful society.
We do this by accepting the idea that we are all indeed different and we do not expect nor even want everyone to be just like us. We rejoice in our differences for this is what adds “color” to our society. That is not to say that we do not need social laws and ethics. But Peter said clearly, “Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves.” (1PE 2:18–NIV)
Peter had to face in the early church the same types of issues as do we when it came to the concept of personal freedom. There are many religious leaders teaching today that freedom of faith comes only if you believe the way that they tell you to believe. If you do only the things they tell you to do. They preach that Christ can save a person from the unreasonable demands of the law, but then unwittingly place their followers under a harsher law than that from which they came.
Christ proclaimed that he did not come to “destroy the law” (MAT 5:17). Instead he declared he had come to fulfill it to prove its worth and its value. That law is in reality easy and very logical. It leads to freedom because it leads to the recognition of the rights of all people and how the Universal Laws of God can show all people how to express their own creative lifestyle in a way that it becomes valuable to all. The Apostle Peter stated it quite simply that we should be cautious of those who promise freedom from God’s laws, “They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity—for ‘people are slaves to whatever has mastered them.’” (2PE 2:19)
Thus be aware of this: A person can live in a country which declares them as being free, but until that person is free from the enslavement of objects, ideas, traditions and other people controlling them, preventing them from serving God as best they see fit, they indeed are not free.
So what is freedom? It is one’s own ability to live life fully in service to our universal creative loving life-force in full consciousness of our personal responsibility to maintain are interrelationships with one another as outlined by the ten commandments of God recorded by Moses. Freedom is the ability to desire to express one’s own personal hopes, dreams and individual desires while recognizing the spirit in all other people, all other living things, and learning to accept their differences as wonderful alternative expressions of our Creator. We must, in short, learn how to honestly be able to say “Namaste” to our family, our neighbor and even the stranger on the street, and mean it; even if that person’s view of what is beautiful, comfortable or godly is different than ours and interrupts our world view.
Freedom, therefore, is being able to live creatively without undue limitations. But with freedom and its release of the creative spirit within us comes also responsibility. For we must not use our sense of freedom as a license to do harm or to restrict others. Simply put: For anyone to lose their right to be free, legally, socially or otherwise, it causes everyone around that person to lose their freedom also.
Choose to be free and help each other of us to express that freedom. Please make comments to this blog post as to how we can use our freedoms better.