What Freedom Means To Me

Today India celebrates it’s 75th Independence Day. There are tons of reasons to love my country and I am proud to call myself an Indian! For some of us the thoughts come easily, dripping with patriotism or pure venom. For others, it needs hours of conversation for the words nation and feelings, usually buried deep or hardly ever considered, to surface. And while we have made great advances in various fields, there is still so much to be done.

The word freedom means different things to people at different stages in their life. Children might think of freedom as a license to do whatever they want to do without any restrictions. Teenagers might think of freedom as being able to go to college all by themselves, a license to skip lectures, to experiment and try out things.

Freedom is the ability to express myself the way I want to. There is no uniform on how my life should be. With freedom I can choose my own moral compass, make my own decisions. Being in a country with freedom means I can choose my own religion. With freedom I can say what I want. Freedom to me means no one rules my life. I choose my own future.

The Statue of Liberty on the east coast should be accompanied by the Statue of Responsibility on the west coast, because liberty and responsibility are two sides of the same coin. 

Viktor Frankl

Freedom spent solely in the pursuit of your own lifestyle, marking wins on your personal scorecard, or making your life a little more comfortable is wasted. With freedom also comes our awareness of our duties and responsibilities along with respect to all we encounter. When our thoughts take the shape of words and action, we must respect the feeling and emotions of other people also. For example, I am free to express my thoughts in conversations. It may be one to one or in large groups. I show disagreement with others but never in heated arguments. Another one is with respect to cleanliness. We cannot throw the garbage in neighbors’ house or on the roads after cleaning our house.

Being free is a beautiful thing. I am thankful for everyone who fought or fights for my freedom. If we compare our level of mobility, financial discretion, and occupational freedom to all of humanity that has come before us, we will see that you and I sit at the peak of all that have come before. Even the ability to choose an occupation was unheard of until the last few hundred years of history. Will future generations judge us as the peak of freedom, after which everything went down hill, or will we choose to spend our freedom in the service of others?

As with everything else, freedom has good and bad effects. Your choices out of freedom can make you or break you. Your choice!

Let’s strive to use our freedom wisely, cherish it deeply and never take it for granted.

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high;
Where knowledge is free;
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls;
Where words come out from the depth of truth;
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit;
Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever-widening thought and action –
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.

~ Rabindranath Tagore

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