When we discuss freedom, we often think of debates that address the limits that individuals should not exceed before infringing on the freedoms of others. Viewed in this way, freedom would be an energetic, continuous and eternal subject of debate: Start with possible antagonism between individual freedom and collective interest, through to the freedom to refuse to do what is harmful within an otherwise reasonable task, to how freedom should be more than the thirst to fulfil one’s desires. Freedom can not be taken for granted and never will be as its outlines are so vague and complex. We are not surprised by this observation, which merely reflects the continuous and interdependent evolution of social contexts, individual needs and interpersonal influences.
Reflection on freedom should be conducted on a personal basis before becoming a social debate. This is not to say that social debate is not important, but it is important to recognize that we often miss out on the basics by focusing our attention only on social debates, which are fine themselves, but distract us from the fact that our circle of influence begins first and foremost with ourselves. Freedom can not be only about universal declarations, fundamental values and global principles reflecting statutory freedoms. Each of us has his or her own definition of their freedom. Reflecting on our perception of our own freedom implies a better understanding of one’s self and is a measure of how important we consider it to be.
At stake is not only appreciating the impact of our freedom on our surroundings, our friends, colleagues, or family, but also to consider if freedom is your priority and whether you consider it to be a philosophy or way-of-life which guides your actions, gestures and thoughts. The answer is lies intimately seeking deep inside you and not in focusing on how others see you. Your answer will tell you what you are able to do on a personal and interpersonal level to realize your dream of ‘freedom’. It is not an easy exercise as we often know what we risk losing if we do not remain subject to systems and relationships that condition our existence but neither do we know the full extent of the gains made by freeing ourselves of these.
It is also important to recognize that freedom is a dream and not an easily accessible reality. We are often mistaken in believing that freedom is naturally acquired. It is far from being so. We are born naturally dependent on our surroundings. Dreaming of freedom is above all liberating what you are instead of remaining dependent. It is the freedom to be an agent of change, not a victim. If you dream of being free, start by challenging your own status-quo, intellectually speaking. Everything around you has been done by people who have similar abilities to you. Undergo a perpetual fight against inertia by undoing your beliefs and build your values from experience. You will flourish by rebuilding your world and making your energy gravitate around it. More than a plan of personal development or an ephemeral attitude, you will mostly have to undertake a personal revolution and a mission of a lifetime worshipping life. To be free is, above all, to live what you are and not what others make you to be.
By Farid Yandouz