Guest Post by Basil Rana: The Truth Behind Perfect Freedom
This lovely essay was written last semester by my student, Basil Rana. Basil is taking a huge course load right now, and I know he is struggling to manage all of his responsibilities. If you have any words of encouragement for him, please share! — Professor Jennifer Hurley
Attaining perfect freedom has always been a common desire amongst society. Freedom is a value that has many definitions through the several perspectives of society. An example of this is in the article “Easy in the Harness” by Gerry Spence in which he states, “Freedom is like a blank white canvas when no commitments, no relationships, no moral restraints have been painted on the free soul.” This statement is a reminder of the importance of certain commitments, as well as having good relationships, and that we must maintain the strive to achieve perfect freedom in other ways. Many people would argue that perfect freedom is not achievable in today’s world. However, I personally believe that freedom may not always be how we would like, or perfect in our eyes, but it is still achievable. When freedom is treated as a belief rather than a state, it becomes easier to refer to our freedom as perfect, since a state of mind is affected by time and place, whereas a belief stands wherever, whenever.
To better understand freedom, one must first understand human rights. Every individual is given the same set of rights to live by. These rights fall among every person equally with some requirements, such as a minimum age. Without equality in such matters, the world would be a disaster. For example, in the article “Money Buys Even More Happiness Than it Used to” by Jean Twenge, there was a study done on the connection between income and happiness, which discovered “income inequality has grown… Today the average company CEO makes 271 times the salary of the average worker” (Twenge). One can imagine the effect such results has on individuals. With the existing lack of equality, people tend to feel abused and degraded. Human rights are typically a sensitive subject that people abuse and tend to overlook, yet they are extremely important in our society. To a certain extent, freedom is one of the rights that everyone carries. In order to achieve freedom, one must maintain a firm stance in defense of their rights. Believing one is free and has the right to be is one of the most important steps to feeling freedom at its best.
Even with freedom being a right to all, in one way or another, it remains a desire that many are desperately chasing. In the well-established countries we live in today, people know they are given lots of freedom; however, they continue to look for something called “perfect freedom.” Everyone interprets freedom to be perfect in their own ways. For example, in the article “Easy In The Harness,” author Gerry Spence describes “perfect freedom” as a life without any relationships, commitments, rules, restrictions, or even religion. … I personally do not believe in such a life consisting of perfect freedom, as without most of [these] factors …, life would eventually begin to feel pointless as well as boring. Spence states in his article, “when we join into any relationship our dues are always paid in freedom.” I agree that at times freedom may be lost in certain ways, and I witness this firsthand being the youngest [sibling] in the family. However, the relationships we join into are worth much more than the bits of freedom that is lost due to them.
Relationships are an important part of our lives. Without most relationships, we would not be where we are today. Whether that is a good or bad thing, changes from person to person, however, we must remember that we would not be able to learn and grow nearly as much without the presence of most relationships. For example, family relations and friendships provide us with people to go to when in need of comfort, relaxation, enjoyment, advice, and assistance. Yet while doing any of those, one is constantly learning and becoming a better person. A spiritual relationship with God helps one stay content and at peace. Having faith in God and accepting He is in control of everything makes life much smoother and easier to live.
Another way some describe perfect freedom is dependent on wealth and financial status. These people believe that with loads of money, one can feel a sense of perfect freedom, as they will be recognized, respected, and have access to anything and anywhere. However, without certain limits on those as well, many other factors of life usually begin to deteriorate with time. These worldly things are so life consuming that they tend to make an individual forget about the rest of their life duties and responsibilities. Emily, a classmate of mine stated, “To have no limits on freedom would cause us to encounter problems in other areas of life.” In this case, we can replace the term freedom with money since some believe money can bring them perfect freedom. I agree with this statement as having restrictions in life is important and without limits in life, our lives would become a total mess. It is agreeable here that without limits on money, problems would form in other aspects of one’s life such as family, friends, and health.
Without a doubt, there are times where our freedom seems to be nonexistent, and in times like these we must encourage ourselves to believe such actions to be the best for us. As stated earlier, freedom is given to each person, with some exceptions. These exceptions are the best for us or the community around us. For example, freedom is cut out of the picture when age restrictions come to play. When someone wants to play a game or buy certain items that have age restrictions on them, they may feel their freedom is being jeopardized. However, it is for the safety of everyone that they do not have access to that item as it can be harmful in many ways. Nonetheless, every individual obtains freedom at one point in their life to make their own decisions.
Spence state in his article that, “Freedom is an article of faith, not a fact, not a condition” (2). I agree in part because yes, freedom must be taken as an article of faith and we must have the belief that we are free in order to live such a life. Furthermore, freedom is still a condition. If one enters “condition” on Google.com, it is defined as “the circumstances affecting the way in which people live or work, especially with regard to their safety or well-being.” So how can we conclude freedom to not be a condition? I researched this matter online and came across this quote from an article on Harley.com that states, “Freedom is a condition in which people have the opportunity to speak, act and pursue happiness without unnecessary external restrictions.” This definition of freedom is what I personally live by, as without such freedom, we are taken advantage of, and cannot truly live a personal life. Whereas with too much, we tend to ignore the consequences when doing too much of something, and I believe, we humans like to push our boundaries and “test the waters” whenever we can in life. An article I previously read called “The Source of Happiness” by Dalai Lama, discussed the effect our mindset has on our level of happiness stating “Happiness is determined more by one’s state of mind than by external events.” This idea runs parallel with achieving freedom, it depends more on one’s state of mind than the current events in one’s life.
Another important key to achieving perfect freedom is attaining the courage to be disliked. This doesn’t mean to make yourself be disliked by everyone, but instead to not worry about what others think, whether they approve or don’t is their issue; you live your life how you want. This strongly connects to perfect freedom as with such a mindset, one can feel free to do everything as they would like to. In the article “The Courage to be Disliked” written by author Ichiro Kishimi, he explains how “One moves forward without fearing the possibility of being disliked.” Through personal experiences, I strongly agree with this statement as growing up, I used to care what people would think of me, and when I stopped caring, I myself was shocked at how much I was able to accomplish and how much I was able to grow with ease.
Freedom may not always be how we would like it to be, neither will it be perfect in our eyes, but it is still achievable. When freedom is treated as a belief rather than a state, it becomes easier to refer to as perfect, since a state of mind is affected by time and place, whereas a belief stands wherever, whenever. One way to accept our freedom to be enough is by remembering the people in some foreign countries that are stripped of all their rights and freedom. These people are forced to give up many things and live in severe difficulty, yet they are still grateful as long as their family is safe. This is another example of why it is crucial for us to balance out our desire for freedom with the other important factors of our life, such as family, friends, and spirituality. Freedom is achievable with such relations in life as well. It is all about how one thinks that makes them feel free or not. As much as we all want to live with perfect freedom, cutting meaningful ties is not an acceptable step to achieving it.