Guy Browning: How to ... be free

We've had freedom so long in this country that, like antibiotics, the positive effects are wearing off. Instead, we have human rights that are the chicken nuggets of freedom, a fast-food version of the bird of liberty with all the goodness removed.

Freedom of speech means the right to say what you want. In theory, this means the freedom to express your deeply-held convictions. In practice, it means getting a word in edgeways without someone else interrupting, talking over you or telling you to shut up. Many people go unheard, but more go unspoken.

Freedom to travel means the freedom to get away from the person who tells you to shut up. It allows you to go and see your good friends and freely associate with them. Freedom of association means meeting anyone you want. That's why it's called association football, because it's about men being free to meet up in large groups to watch the more athletic among them chase a leather bladder.

Freedom of worship is the guarantee that, whatever your God, you are free to worship him, her, it or them. In this country it means freedom to meet in village halls and display your devotion to model railways or oversized vegetables.

Other freedoms are "freedom from" rather than "freedom to". A healthy bank balance gives you freedom from bills, mortgages and other burdens of modern life. The downside of wealth is that you become a slave to money. Monks traditionally embrace poverty to free them from this. As the great philosopher Kris Kristofferson once said, "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose."

Freedom from fear is another vital freedom and is the bedrock of human civilisation. We give our personal weapons to the state to provide an environment free of the need to use them. Other countries prefer the freedom to carry semi-automatic weapons to protect them from the state.

Ironically, freedom doesn't come free. It requires an enormous amount of effort to secure and eternal vigilance to maintain. However, as long as "freedom to" is the best way of getting "freedom from", it will be most people's preferred way of doing things. But feel free to disagree.

Thanks to who have provided this article. View the original here.


comments powered by Disqus