Dictionary.com defines freedom in five different ways. The first is: the state of being free or at liberty rather than in confinement or under physical restraint; 2. exemption from external control, interference, regulation, etc.; 3. the power to determine action without restraint; 4. political or national independence; 5. personal liberty, as opposed to bondage or slavery.
As the photo implies, freedom is the feeling of being released, being on your own, taking care of yourself, not having to answer to someone else. What a feeling that is to have! There are many times in our lives when we experience this feeling.
I don’t know about you, but I can’t help but think of that moment in “Braveheart” when William Wallace (Mel Gibson pre-meltdown) is speaking to the Scots and getting them revved up for battle. Finally he simply yells “freedom.” It’s an intense moment and you can’t help but feel excitement and an overwhelming sense of wanting to fight for freedom as much as they wanted to – you’re drawn into that moment.
That moment when you know you’re free is exhilarating. There are so many images that come to mind and sorry to get cliché here but when “Jack” in “Titanic” is standing on railing of the great cruise ship and claims to be on top of the world – okay so maybe there was some hokeyness to that film but again it’s about that feeling. I can’t begin to imagine how amazing it must have felt for slaves as they were “transported” via the Underground Railroad to freedom – the fear of being caught was outweighed by the notion of living free. They were no longer subject to that physical restraint, to that external control or regulation. They were no longer bonded or slaves.
I’m sure many can somewhat relate when we had that first drive in our first car for the first time without a parent next to us. I’ve been fortunate not to have to deal with this but I can imagine how exhilarating it must feel to be free after years of abuse of any kind. There’s a sense of knowing he or she will no longer be interfered with; that person has been empowered to determine his or her own action without restraint, without guilt or shame.
The feeling may not be as exciting but it still exists when someone moves to small town or out to the country-side. That person is suddenly free of the confines of traffic, road rage, smog and the other negative aspects of city dwelling. There is all kinds of freedom to be had and it happens every day.
Freedom is closely tied to independence. Dictionary.com defines independence two ways: 1. the state or quality of being independent; 2. freedom from the control, influence, support, aid or the like of others.
I thought it important to throw in some definitions of independent also. Dictionary.com defines it in five different ways: 1. not influenced or controlled by others in matters of opinion, conduct, etc.; thinking or acting for oneself; 2. not subject to another’s authority or jurisdiction; autonomous; free; 3. not influenced by the thought or actions of others; 4. not dependent; not depending or contingent upon something else for existence, operation, etc.; 5. not relying on another or others for aid or support.
Naturally, when one thinks of independence, particularly in July, America’s independence is what comes to mind and for good reason. It’s not the only kind though. Ask any country that has fought for their independence from a governing body.
Being independent is a big deal. As we grow up, we earn our independence from our parents. There’s even legal stages. At age 16 we can drive. This means getting to come and go as we please (well mostly). We’re taught to think for ourselves and act on or own.
At age 18 we are given the right to vote. Again, this is a big step. We learn to think for ourselves about how we want to see the country operated; we can influence what legislation is passed. At age 21 it’s legal to drink. Again another level of responsibility is supposed to be earned. Slowly but surely we are no longer subject to another’s authority or jurisdiction. We become autonomous.
A first job, even if it’s babysitting, earns some independence. Suddenly a teenager has his or her own money to do with it as he or she sees fit. A teenager is no longer relying on another or other for aid or support. They are no longer dependent upon a parent, at least not completely, for their existence or operation.
Freedom and independence are amazing feelings. They’re abstract but they play such big roles in our lives it’s hard to not take some time to discuss them.