The two kinds of freedom

I’m a wonderfully easy methodist—I revel in being methodical even as others my decry its imposing restrictions and attempt to “break free”, an act I have come to contextualize with the loss of freedom. While the argument may seem foolishly contrarious, it must be said that a perfectly reactionary response is dependent wholly on the form and function of the concept, object or movement being rejected. Within the “limits” of methodical action, however, there is much freedom in the guise of a lack of conflict, which may otherwise direct the individual to be satiated simply by defeating the original and have him/her diverted conclusively away from establishing an independent notion. Freedom, therefore, is a two-phasic notion: it is only half attained when the bars of the prison have been overcome; the circle is completed only when, upon release and independence, there is that corresponding independent action.

Herewith it may be posited that freedom may not exist in the absence of suppression or oppression, and that position may be true, for in the light of everyone being free, what is freedom but the monotonous passage of time? However, that is only a loss of symbolic significance: it is necessary that freedom be “retained”, as if it were a precious necklace to be saved from burglary, in which case its form and function is not an inclusive definition—not one in and of itself as may have been the case—but an exclusive one. The joy of “being free”—as in “experiencing freedom”—would lie with not the wearing of the necklace but with the prevention of its theft; similarly, the constant denial of the threat of suppression or oppression would grant the notion of freedom any meaning and not the act of being free itself. The inclusive definition, on the other hand, is what must be fought for—rather what is worth fighting for, spilling blood for: the freedom not from containment but the freedom to contain.

Were I an individual associated with the electorate in the presence of an instituted governing body, my exclusive freedom would be defined by the actions of the government—whether or not the government lives up to its promises, whether or not it it uses its powers well, etc.—whereas my inclusive freedom would be defined by my individual actions alone: whether or not I am fulfilling my duties as a citizen, whether or not I am making full use of my liberties (whilst respecting the moderations of responsibilities in return), whether or not I execute the necessary actions, backed by the necessary judgment, to bring to justice any wrongdoer irrespective of his or her affiliations. Furthermore, I would note that, as has been argued in this essay, it is that inclusive freedom that must needs be the greatest goal of a war that is fought in the name of freedom. The simple rejection of another man’s excesses is not a war for freedom—it is a war against the improper enforcement of laws in the land. A war for freedom is an essentially individual cause, and even though many men may partake of its outcomes, it is to be fought for one’s own victory than for the other man’s defeat.

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