What is Freedom?
Freedom; this word has been the rallying point of every American since the nation declared itself independent from Great Britain in 1776. For many years we, as a nation, have justified our actions on the basis of “freedom” and “democracy”. We have freedom of speech, petition, assembly, press etc. Democracy is not even the word to describe this nation, which is in reality classified as a Democratic Republic. However the main question here is: What is this so called “freedom” that the United States Constitution has so decreed we have, and are we really “free”?
The Webster definition of “freedom” is: “the quality or state of being free, as the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action”(“Freedom”) . What does this mean in association with freedom in this country? In layman’s terms, it basically means that being “free” gives us the power to choose what to do, where to go, who to be. It is the “condition of having liberty”(“Freedom”). The ability to do as you please without restraint. As well as being a political right; the right to free speech for example.
Our many rights have been listed in the US Constitution. Amendment One covers our basic “freedoms”; Speech, Petition, Assembly, Press, and Religion. I personally studied the Constitution for many years, and passed my Government class with an A both overall and on the Constitution test. I am fully aware of the rights the Constitution gives me. But do I really have them? The ability to speak freely? The ability to not be judged by my race, my gender identity, or my religion? The ability to stand up in a crowded square with other people and tell the world exactly what we think of it? These are questions that have plagued me for years.
I honestly do not think that as a people we are free. In comparison to the rest of the world, we may be “more free”, but not actually “free”. The Government says that we are free to choose who runs us, but in the end only the people with money are in power…which is scarily close to a mixture of Plutocracy, Constitutional Monarchy, Aristocracy, and Indirect Democracy. We are supposed to be free to do as we choose…but that would be Anarchy, so rules had to be put into play. In a way, though I do not support the idea, that would be considered taking away a Constitutional right. Freedom is almost an illusion; a veil placed over our eyes. The world gives us some freedom and then takes away others. We are never truly “free”.
However, I can play Devil’s Advocate too. It would be said that without order, the world would descend into chaos. I can see that, and I agree with that. Anarchy is the absence of rules, or true “freedom”. It is not a good thing in any sense, and there is an obvious reason for rules to exist. If true freedom is to be achieved through Anarchy, then I do not want true freedom.
Now if we analyze the concept of “true freedom”, then we might realize that it is not everything that we think it to be. We want freedom yet crave order. We want to be healthy yet crave sweets. I see a parallel. We want what we cannot have. Most people will argue that we are free and others will say we are not. The real question here is: “How do you define freedom?”. If one believes that freedom means you should be able to do whatever you want whenever you want, then that one will bring us to Anarchy. If one believes that freedom means you can choose your path, but suffer consequences if the wrong choice was made, then we see order…and yet, it would still be argued that they are not free. If you are punished by your choices, would that not be Totalitarianism? Yet another form of control, and another way to argue the topic of freedom.
Now if I was reading this, I would honestly start questioning why the USA considers itself a “free” nation when in reality, it is almost as bad as other nations on the topic of government control. We were free at one point in our life and one point only; the very end of the Revolutionary War. The moment former President Washington stepped out of office, our image of “freedom” disintegrated into bits of tiny particles that were scattered away in the winds of change.