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Call Me Freedom

What does Freedom mean to us? When Freedom can mean a variety of different things to people around the world, how can we ensure that it is always delivered?

By Outrageous Optimism Published 2 years ago 5 min read
Call Me Freedom
Photo by Hanna Zhyhar on Unsplash

What does freedom mean to you? Is it staying up all night and sleeping in? Having no one there to dictate how you spend your time or make the choices you do… Is it deciding that you will have that mimosa before noon, or choosing between the red or blue top without your partner breathing down your neck? Is it the luxury of being able to take a sick day when you need it? Does it arrive each time you head to the polling station and vote for what you want to see in the world? Is it buying enough food for the month and still being able to pay the bills? Perhaps freedom is having no bills! Perhaps it is being able to walk down the street where you live and feel safe.

Freedom is a rather ambiguous term. One that has layers, levels, and means something different to everyone who uses it. It presents itself as a feeling, a lightness like the weight of the world has fallen from your shoulders and you have nothing but endless possibilities.

Feeling free doesn’t always necessarily mean you’re making the right choice. For someone who has experienced bad examples of long-term relationships, they can come to feel trapped by the thought of commitment. For those who run for the bus each morning, freedom may look like stealing a fast car and joyriding down a highway. For some, however, freedom may simply be sitting with the fact that they have the right to exist, no matter what anyone else says.

By Lilian on Unsplash

To me, knowledge has always meant freedom. I like to have information from every angle so that I’m able to figure out what my next move is. The freedom doesn’t come from having the information alone, the freedom for me comes with having the information, with no obligation to do anything about it in a hurry. It’s the freedom to know what the score is, and have the time to pick out what is best for me.

For example, being mixed race, I’ve lived in two countries – England and Tunisia. Both countries, though similar on some views, take quite different standpoints on others. Each country proclaimed that their societal norms were morally the best, the most chaste, practical, natural. Each being ever so slightly affronted by the other’s values. It was a very strange thing to pick up on as a young girl. My sense of freedom here, came from a reaction I had to the information presented to me. I decided at that point in my life that most of what we say is ‘natural’ or ‘the way we’ve always done things’ at some point, were just arbitrary rules made up by somebody else. It became up to me to decide, which points I agreed with, and which I didn’t. This idea has followed me throughout my adult life, becoming almost a creed.

That love for freedom that I had grew during my years in Tunisia, when the citizens (previously living under a dictatorship), saw something fundamentally wrong with the structure of their society, and did something about it. The Tunisian, or Jasmine Revolution sparked what we now know as The Arab Spring. It was an awful time, filled with anger, fear and death. It was also a time filled with community, hope, and a primal gut-wrenching roar for freedom.

By Joseph Chan on Unsplash

However, freedom is unstable. It means different things to everyone, and sometimes there will be people already in positions of significant power, engaging in actions that make them feel they’re free at the expense of everyone else. It’s important to remember that, although these people may be powerful, they are a minority.

When we ousted, ex-president Ben Ali, the vultures started circling in Tunisia, trying to take advantage of a power vacuum. But the Tunisian citizens had a taste of freedom and they were willing to keep fighting for it. There was a great sense of optimism immediately after the revolution amongst the people of Tunisia. The idea that if anyone tried to pin them in a stranglehold again, they would come together as a community and put a stop to it.

There is no doubt that Ukrainians are fighting for freedom right now. Fighting against oppression. Fighting for their loved ones, their country, for the right to walk down the street where they live and feel safe. The reaction to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, being an overwhelming one of outrage and sadness from almost every country.

Across the globe, people banded together, deciding to take matters into their own hands rather than simply waiting to see what official organisations and governments would do. Citizens are opening their homes to Ukrainian refugees, donating food and supplies, sending money to family businesses in the country so that Ukrainian establishments don’t lose their source of income. There are some who feel so strongly about freedom being upheld that they’re gearing up to fight for Ukraine themselves.

No matter what people have decided to do, it’s clear that the notion of freedom means a lot to us. And the idea that it can be lost, or forcefully taken away has struck a chord. Freedom is an abstract concept, its definition less easy to pin down in factual terms. It’s easier to describe in terms of the way it makes us feel. Freedom is a lightness to the way we walk, it is being unburdened by unnecessary hurdles, giving ourselves the chance to take a breath. It is about having all of the information to help us make better choices, it’s about having agency over our lives.

By Etienne Girardet on Unsplash

Not one Ukrainian citizen chose to have to rug pulled out from under their feet. To have their homes, jobs and sense of identity thrown into disarray. Freedom is something that must be upheld for everyone, it’s something that must be fought for in every moment of our lives – whether big or small.

Freedom is liberating but it is hard-won. Nothing can begin to encapsulate the steadfast resilience and strength of the Ukrainian citizens. Although the kinds of violence they have endured should be something that nobody ever has to go through, we’re all rooting for justice and we’re all rooting for freedom.

In the words of MLK Junior, “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

We have one shot at this life. We have to make it count.

I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing it! If you did, feel free to like and subscribe.

If you would like to read more about freedom or learn more about The Arab Spring, you might like to check out:

Wanting to do something about what you've read today? Please donate to help the people of Ukraine here!

If you would like to continue the conversation, you can find me over on @OptimismWrites.

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About the Creator

Outrageous Optimism

Writing on a variety of subjects that are positive, progressive and pass the time.

We're here for a good time AND a long time!

Official Twitter: @OptimismWrites

Author Twitter: @gabriellebenna

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