Freedom, people have been fighting and dying for this idea, way of life and continue to pursue this concept in its diverse manifestations as free will and free thought for as long as mankind has existed. Some call it rights, a time of peace or even independence. This one word can mean so many things to different people based on their histories and circumstances in life.
For some people, it is the ability to wake up in the morning and not be treated unfairly based on the color of their skin, not being prejudiced, oppressed or mistreated based on their religious beliefs and not fear to have a voice. To another set of people, it means they can walk home freely on the streets without fear of being attacked or mugged, to some it means being in state of peace where there is absence of war and to the next person his/her freedom signifies the ability to pursue goals and dreams without being railroaded, given equal opportunity and economic independence. All the above-mentioned people are battling every day of their lives for this privilege.
In times past, people have loved, fought, or had their freedom taken away from them; in most instances, many have suffered and died for freedom and are currently facing the same predicament. Nations like America, India, South Africa and my own nation Ghana have had to experience very brutal and violent periods in their history for their freedom. Wars, like the two world wars, were fought because a more powerful nation decided to deny the freedom of other sovereign states and people. I could go on and on about freedom throughout history and how it matters. So, in effect Freedom is quite valuable to many. Almost every nation in the world has an assigned date on their national calendars when they celebrate their freedom worn for them and even sing it in their national anthems recounting their history through their struggles to gain their freedom.
But a lot of people in the world today have taken their freedom for granted. We do not seem to value it anymore, people died and suffered just so others could have a better life. Yet we treat our freedom like it is not worth much to us. We rather have this sense of entitlement because we have probably not experienced a moment or period in our lives where our freedoms were denied, unlike our fore-bearers who not felicitous. For those who have the privilege, many wake up in the morning with taps flowing, have electricity, an education, good health, food to eat, a livelihood, an ability to buy things as and when they want. However, have you sat down for a minute to wonder how your life would be like if all these basic necessities were taken away from you? I bet a lot of people do not think about it.
I believe our ability to appreciate and value our freedom will make us view our lives differently and be grateful for the lives we have. We might stop complaining because the moment you begin to disparage the freedoms in your life, at that exact moment, someone else in your neighborhood, town, nation or another part of the globe is fighting for the same things you think mean nothing to you. Children are being denied food, water, shelter, an education just because they lack the freedom to access these basic life necessities. You have them available at your beck and call yet you are either being wasteful or ungrateful.
Our freedom is a presupposed notion that teaches us to cease the day and make the best out of our circumstances but this, contrary to the kind of lives we live, and we as a people are being wasteful of it. We need to use it wisely, freedom matters, use it well and thus future generations may come to enjoy it as well. We also need to realize that being free is not absolute; there are rules that govern our freedom. Having freedom doesn’t mean you steal or murder someone at will, as there are reprehensible consequences and such acts signify a waste of your freedom which consequently leads to the loss of it.
Having the freedom of self-determination and free will also bestow on us the responsibility of being socially and emotionally conscious on how we treat others. Why am I saying this?
Let me give an instance of lack of decorum in the use of our freedom. A few years ago, I read an article where a presenter in America got fired based on the fact that he said the First Lady of the USA looked like an ape. Which was an unfortunate comment, just because you have freedom of speech and an avenue to voice it does not mean you can just say anything you want and get away with it. Solicitousness needs to be attached to how we use and manage our freedom. Words and speech have given birth to wars around the globe because one or few people decide to spew hate speech and a nation went up in flames. One of the things that edifies mankind is our speech, the words we use is one of the mediums through which we communicate amongst ourselves. Revolutions and changes have been birthed through this process. Similarly, we need to use it with diligence and be mindful of the fact that others have been denied it. World leaders like Gandhi, Nkrumah, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King and so much more used Freedom of speech though not easily available to them they were willing to die so generations after them would breathe more easily and do so in freedom.
As we wake up this morning or going to bed tonight just remember all the things you need to be thankful for like the freedoms given to you. Remember that someone made it possible for you to enjoy it perhaps even died in the process. How well are you using it to improve your life and those of others? Just imagine if we all used our freedoms wisely?