Wednesday, March 4, 2009

What does it mean to be free?

I had an interesting conversation today with some students at a local Jewish high school about the meaning of freedom. We discussed what freedom looks like on an individual basis as well as what it looks like in the broader context of society. Some students felt that freedom was simply the ability to do whatever you wanted to do without fear of repercussion. Others felt freedom could be defined on many different levels and that it meant different things to different people. Most felt that true freedom was more than simply hedonism.

"Freedom is not merely the opportunity to do as one pleases; neither is it merely the opportunity to choose between set alternatives. Freedom is, first of all, the chance to formulate the available choices, to argue over them -- and then, the opportunity to choose."

C. Wright Mills

We raised the question of whether there was a difference between the "experience of freedom" and the freedom to act and express yourself in whatever way you chose. After all, can't freedom be experienced within the walls of a jail cell or in an open field? At the end of our discussion, we agreed upon one thing: that true freedom involves transcending the borders that confine you - whether they are physical, emotional, psychological or political. Or to put it another way:

"Ultimately we know deeply that the other side of every fear is a freedom."

Marilyn Ferguson

The discussion is still a work in progress, but it has inspired me to look into my own life and the way that I experience freedom. I wish you courage in probing into your limitations and finding a way to break through whatever restrictions are holding you back from a greater sense of freedom.

In song,
-Todd Herzog

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