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Why is Freedom Important?
Freedom, loosely defined, is the right of people to speak, express themselves, and pursue happiness. Nowadays, some take their freedoms for granted, while their ancestors literally had to fight tooth and nail to gain theirs. In some cases, one only learns how important their freedom is once it is taken away from them.
Importance of Freedom of Religion
Think of what will happen if your freedom of religion is taken away. Say, you woke up suddenly and the government became a sectarian form of rule where religious leaders are charged to govern the people. If you already subscribe to that form of religion, you might think that it will not be that big of a deal.
What if you suddenly find flaws in the religion of the government (and all religions are riddled with them, depending on your viewpoint)? You will most likely feel bad about not being allowed to change to another.
Most religious governments are also very strict at enforcing their religious laws. You can find them quite restricting and even draconian most of the time. In certain cases, people are even divided into different classes. Also, those in the lower rungs of society are not even considered as equal citizens by those on top. It is the reason why you truly have to value your freedom of religion, so you can freely choose what you want based on your beliefs.
Importance of Freedom of Speech
Now, imagine if your freedom of speech is taken away. It is probably the most important of all the forms of freedom because it allows you to state what is in your mind without censorship or persecution. If you take this away from you, then you cannot say anything that is even remotely critical of anyone, especially the government or whoever is ruling your despotic nation.
Even if you just worded something wrong to make it seem like it is being snarky or critical, you will immediately be in trouble. Freedom of speech is important because it allows for the free exchange of ideas and opinions. With that, you can freely grow and progress beyond your status quo. Without anyone stifling your freedom, you can explore new ideas that can help others with their plights.
Freedom is indeed one of the most vital aspects of society. Having it is the reason why people are now driving in cars and flying in airplanes to visit other countries. It is also the reason why you are enjoying all of the creature comforts that you have right now.
Pray that you will not live to see the day that even one of your basic freedoms is forcefully taken away. It will be a different and difficult world to live in when your liberty is limited.
How is Freedom Defined?
Generally speaking, freedom is your ability or right to act, speak, and think however you want without hindrance or fear of persecution. It is synonymous with the term liberty. In the political sense, it is the state wherein the people are allowed to govern themselves without subjugation, or even influence of, another sovereign state.
It should be noted that freedom comes in different forms. You have to learn about these forms if you want to understand the true definition of freedom. Here are some of the different forms of freedom.
Freedom of Speech
One of the freedoms that people enjoy in many democratic countries is freedom of speech. This means a person can say or express whatever it is on his mind without censorship or persecution. In the United States of America, freedom of speech is one of the most protected. In the First Amendment, it effectively states that “Congress shall make no law… abridging freedom of speech.”
Freedom of Belief
Another basic form is freedom of belief, which means that you can choose whichever religion to subscribe to. You can also choose to not believe in any religion at all. Many people take this freedom for granted right now, but it was not long ago that one can be persecuted and even executed when he does not have the “right” beliefs. Now, you can subscribe to any religion from anywhere in the world without fear of any backlash from anyone in the government.
Freedom of Expression
Freedom of expression is sometimes mistaken to be the same as freedom of speech, but it is something altogether different. It means you are free to express and exchange ideas and opinions without repercussions. It includes saying whatever you want to say. Moreover, it includes expression through different art media and forming groups to discuss ideas and such.
Freedom of Association
Freedom of association is the civil right of people to gather (peacefully) with others who share the same opinions. This includes staging rallies to show support for or voice out your opinions on different government matters. It is also the right of employees to form a union to protect their rights as workers, and many more.
There is a huge emphasis here on gathering peacefully. Many governments prohibit this type of freedom from militias, or from groups to bring weapons and firearms with the express intent of causing violence and disturb the peace.
Mentioned are just some of the freedoms that people are lucky enough to enjoy in these modern times. You should study more about them so that you know whenever your freedoms are under fire.
Does Freedom Have the Same Meaning for Everyone?
If you ask ten people about what freedom means to them, you will most likely get ten different answers. It is mainly because each one has a different set of beliefs, principles, and opinions.
You can find those who define freedom as the ability to go wherever they want whenever they want to. This might mean that they can go out of their house even late at night without being picked up by the police for violating curfew. However, most people believe that this kind of freedom means that they can go out without getting mugged, shot, stabbed, and many other undesirable things.
Some people, especially those who migrated from authoritarian countries to a more democratic one define freedom as having the ability to be whoever they want to be. In other words, they are free to choose whatever religion they want to believe in. Many countries are run by a religious government, which means that religious leaders are also the ones running the government.
In this case, the citizens are not allowed to subscribe to other religions other than what the government suggests. In a truly democratic country, one can choose whatever religion he wants. You can even choose not to believe in one.
Many also believe that freedom means they have the right to choose their own moral compass, without anyone telling them otherwise. However, this does mean that you are allowed to break the law. Your beliefs should not hinder or negatively affect others.
It means that your freedoms should not result in the impeding of the freedoms of others. This can be a tricky path to tread, but this is the great thing about living in a democracy. You can make mistakes and learn from them without any repercussions.
Freedom can also be seen as being able to choose one’s path in life. Some countries still use the caste system, meaning people are born into a certain social class, of which they cannot escape from. In other words, those in the lower rungs are seen as lesser class citizens and are not allowed the same kinds of privileges as those who are in the upper classes.
Freedom means that you can choose your own career path. If you are qualified for a certain job position, then you should have the same chances of getting it as any other.
As you can see, there are different definitions of freedom. Everyone looks at it in a different way. Whatever your definition of freedom is, you need to cherish that you have it. If it comes down to it, you must be willing to defend it.
Has Freedom Always Existed? What is the Future of Freedom?
One could argue that the United States of America fought for and got its freedom when it declared independence from King George and Britain. However, from a philosophical standpoint, people enjoyed certain kinds of freedoms even before the country got its independence. So, has freedom always existed? To a certain degree, yes. However, not all forms of freedom were available from the get-go.
For instance, freedom of speech and expression were quite limited and highly censored during the colonial period. If you were to say anything remotely critical of the British monarchy back then, you would be charged with treason and sent to jail. There are even times when you will be executed if your crimes were serious enough. This is why Benjamin Franklin was risking his liberty and life when he was running his own printing press and pumping out revolutionary propaganda material.
From then on, the people’s freedom has begun to expand and include everyone in the country (slavery was outlawed and the former slaves were given their freedom). With each additional freedom came more opportunities for learning, growth, and possibilities. If you are not that free, modern society, as we know it now, might not even be possible. Now, here is the question, “has freedom reached its peak, or is there still room for more?” This is a question that many have thought about for hundreds of years.
It is hard to say if we can still reach a higher level of freedom than what we have right now, most especially since there is nothing to challenge the current state of normalcy. Some might argue that there are still, to a certain degree, restrictions to the people’s freedoms, but no one can prove or disprove the fact. As it is right now, one can only bear witness to the evolution, or maybe even the devolution, of people’s freedom.
Some would assume too much to say that they know what the next step in the evolution of freedom is. Either their take on the issue would be so controversial that it splits the opinions of the people or it does not really make a lot of sense to anyone else besides the one who originated the concept.
Contemplating on what’s next for your current freedoms can be quite an exercise for your logical thinking, and who knows? You might even get the answer you are looking for. But for now, the answer is still very much unclear. It can only be noticeable when it is already happening.