The price of freedom, it is said, is eternal vigilance.
When a man is denied the right to live the life he believes in, he has no choice but to become an outlaw. — Nelson Mandela
The price of freedom, it is said, is eternal vigilance. Freedom is the basic value from which spring forth all others. It is the river; the others are the tributaries. Without freedom, all other values wither and perish. Without the courage to be free, all other virtues sicken and die. The wonder of being a human is the unique freedom offered to us through our instance from every other person and being.
Our civilization is scaling new peaks — peaks that are bringing to us immense gains. But even while make this great voyage, we are blissfully unaware that we are slowly losing one of our most precious assets — a lifeline that could be summed up in a single word, “freedom”. Very few of us can say with certainty that we live in total freedom. Every man is caged by the fetters of ideologies, superstitions, customs and social restrictions. These self imposed fences restrict the creative flights of man. There is little we can achieve without freedom .An oppressed mind can never open out like a parachute and take to winds. We cannot exercise the entire range of our emotional repertoire until we allow free reign to our creative impulses. We don’t have to fully understand freedom to want it, but we do have to be ready to face the consequences of pursuing it and have conviction in walking that path. Once we’ve taken the first step towards freedom, we need to keep nurturing it by creating opportunity. Freedom is not ea
sily acquired — rather, it is difficult to obtain, harder to sustain, and a commitment that we must actively work towards keeping. Freedom is not a one-time fight. It’s a slow and gradual progression that must be cared for, nurtured, and increasingly committed to over time
Pope John Paul II rightly distinguished between the true freedom of doing what you ought to do in a way that makes use of your unique talents — the freedom of means — to the false freedom of doing whatever you want, however base the goal or desire — the freedom of ends.
Human ends and human goods, given to us by our nature, are not things we can freely define and redefine. We thrive not when we do whatever we want in the moment, but when we choose higher and longer-term goals. This kind of human thriving requires self-discipline and creativity.
The great Urdu poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz very eloquently sums up the plight of a society deprived of the precious gift of freedom :
“The birds that herald dreams
were exiled from their song,
each voice torn out of its throat.
They dropped into the dust
even before the hunter strung his bow”.
As Jose Marti summed up in his interview in the New Yorker of May 27, 1975, “Like the bone to the human body, and the axle to the wheel, and the song to a bird, and air to the wing thus is liberty the essence of life. Whatever is done without is imperfect.” There is a famous Danish proverb, “Better to be a free bird than a captive king.”