Photo credit: Anne Staveley

What does freedom mean and who gets to be free? Does that include everyone?

Everyone wants to be able to do what they want, when they want and how they want. That’s freedom, just look at toddlers, animals, nature or stars.

In reality, everyone has their own idea of what freedom means to them personally and it is based on their priorities, situations, and needs.  

The deer wants to live a long happy life but has to abide by the law of the jungle ie watch out for predators. There’s no appeal system for her as she’s stalked and preyed upon by a hungry mountain lion.

There are people all around the world who have never had a year free from hunger or even a week free from thirst.

There are millions of cows, pigs, sheep, goats, and chickens that would rather romp freely in fields than be in cages waiting for slaughter.

My kid wants to play on his Xbox all day, but cannot because we as parents have set limits on his playing time and a bedtime because we want him to be free from fatigue so that he is free to learn and free to grow as a person. We have the freedom to do that, but he may not see it that way.

I want to go dancing all night and yet still be the rock star mum the next morning, but it won’t happen. My body has other ideas, like sleep.

We want it all: a good, long life, health, wealth, and happiness. And yet we bump into blocks, internal and external, which bind and restrain us. Rules and laws that stop us in our tracks and make us feel trapped, frustrated, and helpless.

Whether it is an internal belief system that says: “you are worthless and don’t deserve anything”  or the external such as being a woman in a country that will not allow women to drive.. – freedom can feel elusive and out of our hands.

But the truth of the matter is that freedom is elusive because no one can give you freedom. It will continue to be elusive until we learn to take it from a system, culture, society, that doesn’t want us to have it.

What I’m saying is that freedom is not guaranteed. In theory, the Constitution protects our rights, but unless we protect it from our leaders who disregard, disrespect, or corrupt the spirit of it, we have no protection and no rights.

We have to engage in and energize our relationship with freedom by asking the difficult questions, by taking leaps of faith, by sharing our bounty, by standing up for those who are not free and most importantly, by questioning everything. Questioning not only what our leaders do in our name and what their intentions are in doing such, but also looking inside to see what we are doing and what our intentions are in doing such.

We must demand that freedom, for ourselves as well as for everyone else. No one is free while anyone is enslaved and this includes freedom from our own mindsets that hurt us and others. Then we must take the action steps to make that happen. Only then can we be free to enjoy being who we are – free from negative, critical self-talk, free to spend time with each other, free to enjoy eating and drinking, free to dedicate time to creativity, philosophy or adventures. Free to love the planet and all the creatures that inhabit it.

A freedom big enough to include we the people.