On the occasion of India’s Independence Day on 15 August 2020, it’s an important question to consider what freedom means in the 21st century. Since freedom is so important to the happiness we feel on an everyday basis, it is important to understand what it means to us.
Imperialism is over and it is almost impossible to go back to times where one country ruled over the rest of the world and makes slaves of men and women. Imperialism was a curse and Britain ought to be ashamed of it, till the end of time. Those days are gone. India achieved independence from the British on 15 August 1947.
However, we haven’t really achieved freedom in the true sense since till the human population figures out ways to be free in every sense of the word, we won’t truly be free.
Let’s look at different kinds of freedoms that we must nurture and grow 2020 onward.
1. Freedom of speech
This is a cherished one. It is one of the freedoms that’s truly debated, especially in India. The US is the only country where freedom of speech is close to absolute and you won’t get arrested or killed for it. India has a long way to go, but as long as we can be civil, respectful and not get violent, which happens every now and then, freedom of speech should be an absolute right.
You can’t kill people with words. You can only debate.
Countries like China and North Korea curtain freedom of speech of its citizens. It creates a suppressed and an oppressed society which never gets the chance to express how it feels about its quality of life.
Democracies are more suited to the idea of freedom of speech since voters have the right to express themselves. Therefore, from a perspective of freedom and happiness, dictatorships and authoritarian regimes must be discouraged and spoken against, in the civilized world.
2. Intellectual freedom
You cannot be intellectually free if you can’t say what you feel. This is a factor of the kind of society we live in. The corporate world and the freedom it allows its employees is a measure of intellectual freedom since work has an intellectual value attached to it.
Entrepreneurs and artists have more intellectual freedom since they don’t have to have their words being vetted by anyone else and even that freedom comes at a personal cost.
To be able to think and express our views in the way we feel appropriate is an important derivative of freedom in our lives.
3. Social freedom
What the hell is social freedom? Starting in America, the black lives matter campaign raged around the world. This evening, I happened to read the powerful story of Rosa Parker who refused to give up her seat decades back and sparked a revolution.
Even in India, the caste system which divides the Hindu society into four classes and beyond is a measure of social discrimination.
Unless there is equality for all irrespective of caste, race and color, we will not reach social freedom. There is still miles to go to achieve absolute social freedom, even in 2020.
4. Freedom to break cultural stereotypes
Child marriage still exists. It is a stereotype that must break in order for kids to have time to find themselves before they commit to marriages. There are several other stereotypes about women, like not being able to work because they are made for household work, around men being too tough to cry etc. These stereotypes makes us weaker.
As a society, we need to fight stereotypes that imprison us and stop our growth. There are certain stereotypes which are good, but we will need far more courage than we currently have to be able to break free of negative stereotypes.
5. Personal freedom
Freedom to choose whatever religion we like, freedom to stay safe around the world at any time of the day, freedom to do work that we feel is right for us are measures of personal freedom.
Cities and countries that are not safe politically deprive their citizens of personal freedoms, which we usually take for granted.
In fact, Corona virus has been vicious because it takes taken away so many personal freedoms that we are otherwise so accustomed to.
We can’t be happy without the ability to exercise personal freedom.
6. Freedom to chase our own happiness
It is far easier than done to be able to live in a society which rewards misery over happiness. Most people do not chase their happiness because they haven’t seen happy people.
They have seen their parents struggling to raise families without caring about their own happiness and they come to believe that that’s what life is about.
We need the freedom to chase our dreams and follow our happiness, no matter what the society thinks of us.
The meaning of freedom also differs from person to person and geography to geography. Someone living in Nigeria may crave from freedom from terrorism. A housewife may want freedom from domestic duties. A prostitute who has been pushed into prostitution craves to run away from it.
Freedom essentially means being able to live your life your own way. Nobody can be truly happy without a feeling of freedom and it is our duty as human beings to keep striving for freedom- for ourselves and our own.
Thank you for reading.
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