1. The power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint.
2. Absence of subjection to foreign domination or despotic government.
3. The state of not being imprisoned or enslaved.
The Fourth of July is just around the corner and with it will come the variety of ways we’ll celebrate the day – 242 years ago – that the Declaration of Independence was approved by the Continental Congress. As a kid I joined in on festivities like backyard picnics and fireworks shows without giving any thought at all to what these things signified. These days, while I sure do love a picnic, I also prefer to spend a little time reflecting on the meaning of freedom and taking action to insure that all people have the same liberties that I do.
What quality defines freedom for you? George Washington Carver said “Education is the key to unlock the golden door of freedom.” Doris Buffett would certainly agree with that. For Iyanla Vanzant, “Freedom means having the power, the inherent right, the capacity and the ability to make choices that honor who I am.” And Aung San Suu Kyi says “The only real prison is fear, and the only real freedom is freedom from fear.”
These are just a few examples of the many ways to say what freedom is. It may be that the definition of freedom depends on the person defining it. Each of us may have our own slightly different take.
We could also look at what the opposite of freedom is. Domination. Confinement. Limitation. Suppression. Reading these words actually evokes a feeling restriction; of being unable to move or expand in any way. Contrast that with the expansive, limitless feeling that comes with the word freedom.
If you mark the July 4th holiday with a celebration, or if you don’t, maybe you’ll consider for a moment what freedom means for you. Feel free to share your insights with me!
“I don’t want other people to decide who I am. I want to decide that for myself.”
“To be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”
“Freedom is what you do with what’s been done to you.”
“Now that she had nothing to lose, she was free.”
Paulo Coelho, Eleven Minutes
“Lock up your libraries if you like; but there is no gate, no lock, no hold that you can set upon the freedom of my mind.”
Virginia Woolf from A Room of One’s Own
“I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.”
William Ernest Henley, Invictus
“She decided to start living the life she’d imagined.”