When I hear the word ‘freedom’ in the context of our Freedom Day celebrations, a few things come to mind:
- We celebrate having stepped out of our mental prisons where we nurtured ways of thinking that kept us apart and viewing others as less human or as a lessor citizen than I am.
- This very awareness ought to prompt us to check what other mental models do we harbour that keeps us from being fully human and from being wanting the best for me and for others.
I have also cautionary thoughts on freedom:
- Democracy and freedom is not the same. History is littered with this fact: Too many leaders got elected democratically and once elected introduce limitations on peoples’ rights of speech, movement, etc. So as participants in a democracy we ought to be alert to any notion that curtails our freedom
- But having said that: Freedom is not absolute i.e. I cannot do what I want when I want with whom I want. That is not freedom! That is anarchy. A fish is free to swim wherever she wishes and how ever deep she may be able to dive, BUT only if she remains in the water! Freedom is not absolute but always bound to something i.e. it has boundaries. This for me is important to grasp because what may be my freedom could be my neighbours limit or prison. Immanuel Kant, the philosopher says: Live your life as if you live in a kingdom where you are simultaneously sovereign and subject i.e. where you are the rulemaking king and the one who has to live under that same law. In some areas it is easy e.g. driving on the left side of the road, because if I don’t there is anarchy, chaos and detrimental consequences. Some areas are difficult e.g. determine the freedom boundaries of being neighbourly or being in a permanent relationship and having to face the reality of drawing boundaries. In these more difficult circumstances we ought to have the wisdom and courage to do self-inspection and reflection and to negotiate with my significant others the boundaries of our respective ‘freedoms’. When I am part of a human populated system drawing boundaries is part of my citizenship….and we all know drawing boundaries is a tricky business!