According to Society's definition of Freedom, it means to exercise ones right to choose what they want. According to www.wikipedia.com, Freedom is defined as the ability or right to do as one wants. This is the majority of the population's definition of freedom. I adopted this definition for many years as well because that is what we have been taught. Until recently did I start to look at freedom in a different way, a way that defines freedom as a state of inner being.
On January 7, 2015, workers of a French magazine company, Charlie Hebdo, were attacked by Muslims terrorists. In a page in one of the magazines, it included a cartoon picture of an ISIS leader that enraged and offended ISIS members, which then led to a shooting shortly after. There were protests and claims of freedom of expression and speech. The Charlie Hebdo magazine claimed they had the right to express. This is when I started to think of Freedom in a new light. I was wondering what the intention was of the Cartoonist who created the magazine drawing. What struck me were the protests and advocacy to express and draw whatever one chooses to draw.
What I learned was that true freedom is not doing and choosing whatever we want to do. Freedom has little to do with having the physical space to choose what we want and exercise our rights. True freedom is choosing with the intention of love for ourselves and others. True freedom is when we choose to say or behave in ways that contributes to our growth and the growth of others. True freedom is choosing with the intention to extend compassion to ourselves and others. True freedom is choosing not from a place of Ego based thinking, but from a place of genuine authenticity. The Ego is the part of us that masquerades as our true self and includes everything else but love; jealousy, anger, insecurity, fear, anxiety, etc. So if the intention of that Cartoonist was to mock another person, they were far from acting from a place of freedom and drew from a place in which they were a servant to their ego.
When we make choices from a place of anything else but love, compassion and authenticity, we are not free, we are slaves to our social conditioning. Any choice that uplifts yourself and others is coming from a place of freedom. Any choice that comes from a place of mocking, criticism, judgment, anger is far from a place of love. When we are in a moment of compassion for ourselves and others, that gives us the self awareness and platform to make a choice that comes from a place rooted in compassion. There are questions that you can ask yourself before making certain decisions.
1. What is my intention in making this choice?
2. Am I serving my growth by making this choice?
3. Is this choice coming from a place of compassion and love or anger and fear?
To be free is to make choices that serve our growth and the growth of others. I agree that we have the right to speak and exercise our self expression. We can be living with fear, hate, jealousy, and anxiety and able to exercise our physical freedom, but still be in chains of our emotional turmoil. Self awareness is key in making choices that serve our highest good and others. Pausing before making decisions is important as well and also takes practice as certain choices and responses to stimuli become automatic over years of conditioning. Being mindful and pausing before making choices allows you to choose from a place of stillness and quiet. In this state you can look at the situation from a bigger perspective. Being in a moment of self awareness gives you great power and freedom to choose differently. To be free, is to live in authenticity and compassion for yourself and others.
"As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn't leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I'd still be in prison" -Nelson Madela