What it Means to have Freedom
I turned my eyes to behold the sapphire waves in front of me. My toes wiggled in the sand and the sun covered my skin. I walked to the water and felt the sand turn into sea.
There were shells and there were rocks. There was the mountain and the sky. From the woes of work and study and the worries of the world, I was at last, free.
Freedom to me is a trip to Cape Town as it is a welcome break from motorists with GP number plates who raise my blood pressure with their driving.
Freedom is a hot commodity in today’s world. We honour those who fight for it, we pray for those who lose it, and spend our working lives trying to get more of it.
But what does it mean to be free? The Supreme Court of the United States in defending the “right” of a mother to terminate the life of her unborn baby asserted the following: “At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe and the mystery of human life.”
What this statement reveals is the depth of desire that exists in the human heart for freedom. A desire so deep, it is at times twisted enough to attempt to “define one’s own concept of existence”.
While this reality-defying concept of freedom may appear to be rational, it is worth understanding what happens when we are not free.
Often when we think of the latter, we picture a man or woman unjustly imprisoned, bound in chains and trapped behind bars. This is a very real aspect of the loss of freedom, but there are other less physically demanding but still very damaging ways that freedom is taken from us.
I am reminded here of George Orwell’s novel 1984, which depicts a world in which its inhabitants are under close surveillance. They are controlled through televisions and the watchful eye of Big Brother.
Freedom exists not only when we frolic on the shores of Cape Town but also when we close our bedroom doors and switch on the lamp on the nightstand and have the room to ourselves to let our minds wander.
If we cannot do that, if we cannot imagine, dream or think for ourselves, then no matter the size of our houses or the comfort of our cars, we are not free.
And certainly then, no definition of “one’s own concept of existence” is going to help. Doing so will result in the very same behaviour that restricts the freedom of others.
So what happens when the shackles are taken off and when the prison gates are opened?
I imagine that we are like children when the schools have closed for the holidays. For a brief moment we are freed from 6:00 alarms, ironing school shirts and the seemingly ceaseless flow of a thing called homework.
Children, in their happiest moments, are the best examples of how to be free. They care only to enjoy, and they care not in how they are seen.
I want to be like an eagle that finds its freedom in the sky. I want to play like a child who ignores passers-by. Close to shore and watching the sea, you will find a lady seeking liberty.