What does freedom FEEL Like?
Can we only feel the joy of freedom when we are released from captivity?
What freedoms do we desire that we seem deprived of?
Freedoms of expression...
Freedoms of movement...
Freedoms of assembly...
Freedoms of choice and behaviour...
Agency and freedom are often confused. If there were no force of gravity would we be free? In fact we would have no freedom of movement other than to scratch! We would be suspended and we would want something to hold onto else we would be blown about by the slightest force acting upon us, a puff of wind. So with no restraints are we free? No, because we could only be acted upon, we could not act ourselves.
However, there are levels of restraint. Within any artistic expression, for example, where there are no restraints there cannot be any expression. Whichever of our senses the art form is aimed at there are restraints: to our sight, the restraint is the visible spectrum, to our ears there is a range of frequencies we can hear and sound does not travel in a vacuum, there must be a medium like air or water through which sound is transmitted. Similarly with the senses of touch, taste and smell, there are limitations of expression unless we want to poison someone!
But one can say I accept there are restraints, but I want to determine my own restraints not have them imposed upon me. Here we come to the whole question of responsibility. Liberty without responsibility leads to anarchy, chaos, decline and eventually extinction. Liberty with responsibility leads to civilisation, progress, peace and the expansion of humanity.
So, can responsibility be controlled? In most societies laws are written and enforced to discourage and if necessary punish those who do not exercise their agency responsibly. Problems arise when those with the powers to enforce act irresponsibly, dictating oppressive restraints to uphold their values at the expense of others.
Here we add a new ingredient to this topic, values. Conflicting values cause contention, unrest, rebellion and the values of he who shouts loudest being dominant. Usually we can assess values as to how much they are selfish, satisfying the individual, e.g. keeping them or the minority in power, or how much they benefit all.
So a framework for freedom could be:
Universal Values that lead to Universal Laws that encourage Individual Responsibility and Self Imposed Restraints on Agency.
But the problem lies with how do we come to universally accepted values?
In the past religion dictated these values in those nations where one particular religion was followed by the majority. The world today is becoming polarised into those who still accept values dictated by some Supreme Being or sacred book, e.g. Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism and those who look to secular institutions for those values e.g the United Nations, European Court of Human Rights or their national governments.
So the question is which shall prevail? Some may look to the return of a Messiah, but that is relinquishing responsibility, that is giving up. The United Nations, I believe, is a noble attempt at preserving the most basic right, that of life itself. Of course it goes further than that, but without the respect for life there can be no progress towards a complete framework for freedom. The conditions under which life can be justifiably taken is the big quandary, but the United Nations that was inaugurated in 1945, I believe, still provides the brightest hope at solving it.
"I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free"
I wish I knew how
It would feel to be free
I wish I could break
All the chains holding me
I wish I could say
All the things that I should say
Say 'em loud say 'em clear
For the whole round world to hear
I wish I could share
All the love that's in my heart
Remove all the bars
That keep us apart
I wish you could know
What it means to be me
Then you'd see and agree
That every man should be free
I wish I could give
All I'm longin' to give
I wish I could live
Like I'm longin' to live
I wish I could do
All the things that I can do
Though I'm way overdue
I'd be starting anew.
Well I wish I could be like a bird in the sky
How sweet it would be
If I found I could fly
I'd soar to the sun
And look down at the sea
And I sing 'cause I know
How it feels to be free
Watch this great LDS video on Agency and Freedom
Of course the greatest freedoms are those of the mind and heart, the inner peace that we enjoy when we are of guilt and the consequences of choices we would have rather not made, in other words being free of regrets.
A man is raised up from the Earth by two wings - simplicity and purity. There must be simplicity in his intention and purity in his desires. Simplicity leads to God, purity embraces and enjoys Him.
Thomas A Kempis