Sunday, March 24, 2013

Freedom is ...

Freedom is ...

A few days ago I asked my family to finish this sentence.  Freedom is ...

Here are the few responses I received.  I learned from this that many of my family members don’t like to play games like this.  I also gained some perspective on how people feel about the concept of freedom.  So here is what I received and some thoughts on freedom.

Freedom Is...

-the opportunity to exercise agency, even the ability to make choices.
-a lot of responsibility.
-to do what I want to.
-worth fighting for.
-the right to do whatever you want.
-the absence of anything that would bind me.
-forgiving and forgiveness.
-the fuel government consumes as it grows.
-not free
-the first word that came to mind was knowledge, although I would reverse it and say knowledge is freedom. 
-being responsible for your own choices
-peace in the pursuit of your own happiness.
-a gift from God that we can lose if we are not careful.
-lost to the degree that society abandons individual God-given rights and replaces them with collective man-made rights.
-being able to do what you want, when you want.  
-the Constitution of the United States. (that's probably cheating, but I couldn't come up with a single sentence to encompass everything! )
-impossible to define in one sentence.
-the opportunity to choose whom we will serve.
-the result of acting on the knowledge of good or evil.

Most responses fall into three categories.  

  1. Freedom is the opportunity or ability or whatever to do something. 
  2. Freedom is something we have or want to have or whatever.
  3. Freedom is the absence of something, as in freedom from persecution, etc.

Personally I find that interesting. The one who chose to participate by not participating makes a good point.  Freedom is hard to define in one sentence, or one paragraph, or one lifetime.  However, it is so fundamental to our existence that I feel the urge to try to at least get my head around it.  So here are my thoughts.  I encourage you to write your own thoughts.

Freedom is the modern catchword

Freedom is what we most often hear of as the reason and blessing of the existence of the USA.  Freedom.  As opposed to bondage.  Freedom to do what we want to do.  That is described as the American dream.  Freedom gives us the right to work and grow and accumulate stuff.  The more stuff, physical or mental, that we accumulate, the freer we are.  Somehow that distorted view of the American dream has taken root.

America was established upon principles of God-given responsibility. We believe that we have God-given rights, among which are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  But happiness can only be obtained upon principles of righteousness.  The pursuit of happiness is the right, not the obtaining of happiness.  Joseph Smith said happiness will be realized when we follow the path that leads to it, and that path is obedience to the laws God has revealed. Any other result is not happiness but only a material counterfeit. Sometimes the difference is not readily apparent and can only be determined by the resulting product.  Happiness produces fruits that are everlasting and sustained.  Material gratification and accumulation are as ice under the sun, or as  civilizations uder the effects of entropy.  They do not last.

John McCain and Jeremiah Denton and Larry Chesley and Nick Rowe and many others who endured the torture of being prisoners in Vietnam were physically held captive.  They could not do more than eat their rice (when it was available) and think.  Nick Rowe wrote his memoirs in Five Years to Freedom.  As a cadet in ROTC at BYU I heard him speak of his captivity and of his escape, and hearing him describe his experience was a great liberating experience for me.  Although his body was severely restricted in what he could do or even attempt to do, his mind was never captive.  Even in prison, he was free.  I believe the same is true for each of those men who endured those years of captivity.  

To be free from something--to me that is what freedom is. So what are we free from? What gives us that freedom from whatever it is that would bind us?  How is it maintained?

I think the opportunity to be free is a gift from God, but the actual freedom is never a gift.  It is valuable, and therefore expensive, not free.  Someone always pays a high price for freedom, either for himself or for someone else.  Freedom is the opposite of what Satan wants for us, for he desires that all men might be miserable like unto himself.  His bondage is the result of his choices.  He chose to be miserable when he chose to rebel against the Plan of Love and Happiness that was presented by our Heavenly Father.  Think of that!  Satan is in bondage precisely because of the right he had to make his own choices.  He wants us to be as he is.  

Jesus Christ, on the other hand, desires that we be free and happy like unto himself.  His freedom is the result of his choices, too.  He chose to be obedient.  He said we shall know the truth (by the power of the Holy Ghost) and the truth shall make us free.  The result of the choice to be obedient will be freedom and happiness, just as the result of the choice to be disobedient will be misery and bondage, just as Lehi said in 2 Nephi 2:27.  It really is that simple.

You all take it from there.  

Stay tuned. 

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful island, beautiful people!! I can relate to your concern about leaving some dear friends. We have met many people here in South Africa that will change our lives for the better, forever!