Freedom. It’s a word whose meaning is far from undisputed. In a world where our culture is diversified to the point where there is no common denominator it is easy to find contradictions within this encompassing idea. Regardless however, of how many varied definitions there are, there is one universal attribute that is apparent to the idea of freedom. This is that every person in the world wants to attain freedom. Whether a person wants the freedom to dress alternatively or the freedom to choose their religion you will no doubt find that freedom is something people are passionate about.
The search for freedom is what drives people. Many people have spent their life in the pursuit of knowledge about freedom, from early days of Christianity to modern politics; freedom is an issue that refuses to be restricted or confined and continues to be a source of inspiration to people everywhere in the search for meaning in life. Over the years many people have tried to define freedom and while it is clear that there are those who are cynical about its intangible nature there are also those that feel it is so intrinsically simplistic that all it requires is the correct attitude or surroundings.
When looking at the philosophy of Nietzsche we are asked to accept the fact that to attain freedom one must first struggle against hardships. According to Nietzsche: ‘Freedom is measured by the resistance that has to be overcome, and by the effort it takes, to make choices and be responsible for them. ‘1 This point-although it has some intellectual merit- is easy to dispute as it disregards those people who have been born into a truly democratic and free society by saying that only those who have struggled can attain freedom.
Nietzsche is in his philosophy devaluing the importance that freedom has in the lives of people who have had an ‘easy life. ‘ In doing this he is denying the fact that freedom is an integral part of everyone’s life. Finding and maintaining a state of freedom is something that every human being aspires to whether it is on a conscious level or part of a deeper, spiritual longing. Another somewhat limiting view on freedom comes from Mignon McLaughlin, the author of many books including ‘The Neurotics Notebook’. In this book, McLaughlin says ‘We have to call it “freedom”: Who’d want to die for “a lesser tyranny” ‘2
This comical yet dark look at freedom asks us to consider what people are fighting for when they are fighting for freedom. With this view, McLaughlin is saying that the fight for freedom in a political sense is merely a struggle to escape one for of dictatorship yet replace it with the lesser restriction of democracy which isn’t without its faults. McLaughlin’s view is definitely pessimistic, but what is also apparent is that he is failing to see that surely the fight for freedom in an effort to improve ones quality of life is anything but negative.
It is too idealistic to expect a person or state to be completely free yet there is something to be said about the effort to improve on imperfect circumstances in an attempt to create meaning in people’s lives. Other points of view on freedom that are arguably more valid although not without their faults are seen in the writings of Marianne Williamson. Her view can be summed up by the words ‘And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our fear, our presence automatically liberates others. ‘3.
This implies that the state of our own freedom is dependant on those around you. Although a lovely idea in theory this is somewhat demoralizing when put into practice. Freedom is something that individuals fight for and live in each day within their spirit and the thought that we can be liberated simply by surrounding ourselves with liberated people does something to denigrate the complexity the search for freedom and its importance in giving meaning to peoples lives. Another place to look for thoughts on freedom is in the bible. In the book of John it is said that.
‘The truth will set you free’4 This simple quote is rich in meaning as it conveys that truth in its many forms has the ability to empower and liberate a person. If one were to live by this mantra then they would believe that in order to experience true freedom one would be required to be completely truthful. Freedom in this sense is very much a spiritual concept in which the soul is able to express itself and be free in the way it searches for meaning. All in all, the concept of freedom is highly debatable and one that will surely evade unanimous definition for many years to come.
The one common thread that is evident when looking at different concepts and the part it plays in peoples lives is that is it intrinsically linked to the persons spirit in a deeper sense and that the search and realisation of freedom is something that gives meaning to people all over the world from all walks of life. PART B Freedom is something that I have always felt passionate about. I feel that it is an issue that has been overlooked for far too long and one that is intrinsically linked with our soul’s ability to grow along with so many other aspects of our lives.
Freedom is such an encompassing idea and I find its fluidity to be the feature that makes it so important to peoples search for meaning in life. Everyone has a different answer to what life means to them so it is seems fitting to me that the concept of freedom be linked to that search as there is no one definition of freedom. word count-109.
BIBLIOGRAPHY 1. Marianne Williamson- ‘A Return To Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles’ 1992 2. Mignon McLaughlin- ‘The Neurotic’s Notebook’ 1960.
3. http://www. angelfire. com/md2/timewarp/nietzsche. html Copyright 2001 Alex Scott 4. Wayne Saunders ‘Memo to Paul McCartney: There are Two Types of Freedom, Sir’ March 2002 (from http://www. counterpunch. org/saunders1. html) 5. John 8:31-32 6. www. quotegarden. com/freedom. html updated February 6, 2006 1 Copyright(c) 2001 Alex Scott 2 Mignon McLaughlin The Neurotic’s Notebook, 1960 3 Marianne Williamson A Return To Love:Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles,1992.