Freedom is a complicated idea. It’s as complicated as individuals themselves. It’s dictated through personal and societal values, which makes it an ever-changing ideal with many facets. Due to its intricate nature, freedom is something that we rarely come to a consensus on. Freedoms run in so many directions. There are individual freedoms, corporate sovereignties, societal liberties, and so many more. All of these are interdependent of each other. Which are most important? How do we decide that?
Freedom should never be set in stone. It can run rampant in the other direction. The basis of a capitalistic society is pursuit of profit. All things being equal, a person should have the liberty to develop an idea, market it, and earn money from the endeavour. In today’s society the more prevalent question derived of that statement is: are all things equal? Does the profit motive supersede environmental concerns, local economies, or public health?
Where is the balance? Essentially, the balance is found in each of us. I know that isn’t a clear-cut answer. It shouldn’t be, though. Freedom must be constantly strived for. It must be asserted again and again. As we evolve, as our species evolves, so must our values.
Do we all have the same values? If you were to jot a list of those things you hold as precious, would it be the same as mine? No. It would be easier if I had said yes, wouldn’t it? There is, however, a high probability that we would have enough in common to agree on some basic things. From there, you build laws, economies, and concepts like courtesy and kindness. If we’re really lucky we can build institutions that reflect the love we hold true in our hearts, like libraries and schools and art galleries.
Freedom is not a simple concept, but it is one worth pursuing. It is worthwhile to have these conversations and debates, to articulate where our values meet and how to build on that ground. It must be carried out of our hearts and home and into the world where it can breathe life.
Keri enjoys her freedom living in Boyle Street.