James Walker

Managing Director, MOFILM

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What is freedom?

As we discuss various topics within the TED community, I am struck by the differences in where folks sit with regard to their appetite for freedom (versus risk etc) and indeed people really are very different - which of course is good.
However, as I have debated this informally with friends, I think we have found it easier to say what freedom is not, rather than what freedom is (ie: it's easier to describe freedom by talking about the absence of bad conditions).
So, what is freedom?

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    Jun 9 2011: I'm writing a training manual (on a self-imposed deadline) and don't have time to read everything here but I keep coming across stuff that seems apropos so, if you will indulge me, I'll post it without checking to see how it fits into the thread.

    The first are these quotes (I collect quotes):

    The happiness of your life depends on the quality of your thoughts: therefore, guard accordingly, and take care that you entertain no notions unsuitable to virtue and reasonable nature. – Marcus Aurelius

    All that we achieve and all that we fail to achieve is the direct result of our own thoughts. – Unknown

    I have learned that I cannot blame others for my life, or my state of affairs - they are my creation, the end product of my thoughts and actions. – Judith E. Pavluvcik

    To put the world in order, we must first put the nation in order; to put the nation in order, we must put the family in order; to put the family in order, we must cultivate our personal life; and to cultivate our personal life, we must first set our hearts right. – Kong Zi (Confucius)

    We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves. – Buddha
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      Jun 9 2011: Thomas,

      Lovely quotes.

      However, all but Confucius' understate the truer complexities of freedom. In a world of myriad cultures, populated by diverse people of different beliefs and thoughts, it doesn't track that freedom is a simple self-created construct, fully conceived and catalyzed by isolated thought.

      It's dangerous if not self-aggrandizing to presume such.

      For example: you are writing a training manual. You are free to create it on the deadline you self-impose. And others are free to read it on whatever deadline they chose (even if, say, an employer instructs different, they have final choice whether they do or don't).

      However, neither you as trainer, nor readers as trainees could access these particular "freedoms" specific to your manual, in the absence of other. Without trainees, what is the point of writing a training manual? If others don't influence what we do, why would you be creating a training manual? If people choose to follow some of your suggestions, are you not at some level a co-creator of some of the lessons they take from it?

      To broaden this point: Without teachers (like Buddha, Confucius, parents, lovers, colleagues, etc.) how does learning occur?

      And if we as individuals were solely capable of accessing freedom without other people, what would we be free from? Where would freedom occur, other than in people's minds? What would be the point?

      To connect these Qs to the quotes you offer:

      1. If we were only shaped by our individual thoughts, why would we read other people's ideas or quotes?
      2. If our state of affairs is solely our creation, why do we choose to have others in our life?
      3. Do others not contribute to actions we take, including those we perceive as positive?

      And to bring this back to freedom, I'll quote an Eastern leader:

      "The power to question is the basis of all human progress."
      -- Indira Gandhi

      As addendum I'd offer: The freedom to question and learn with others abets individual power and progress.

      Andrea
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        Jun 10 2011: Andrea,

        for the first time in my experience of these conversations I really feel like you are expressing some vital clarity about the things that have been really bothering me with a particular mindset. I am asking you to keep talking. I am beginning to trust your objectivity.

        I would like to be reconsiled with this world view but I cannot even at this momenteven accurately identify 'the mindset'. I just know that I am really worried that (not convinced that) people who have no freedom and few choices are being fed a fairy tale about 'just think right and embrace rainbows and all will be fine.' I want to demand that of anyone 'if you are a piper you better lead the people faithfully.' They deserve that much.

        I want all to be fine for everyone too. I want it very much but not enough to drink the 'koolaid' if it is poisonous. I also know that there are many people who need a way forward and who haven't got much energy or hope left or who have important things to do.

        I do not mean my words to be inflammatory- especially when you are reaching across the void. I am asking you to keep talking. I hear your voice in the darkness of this thing.
        I would like to believe that you are a light bearer.
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          Jun 10 2011: Debra,

          Reacting to your mention of drinking Kool-aid: I'd say best to never gulp too much of anyones--including ones own.

          It might go down easy but often the future implications are unbecoming, or worse. As you so plaintively note.

          Sipping others wine? Now, I might have a different take on that :-). But I digress...
          Back to your point about following Pied-Piperish fairy-tales. I agree.

          A steady diet of over-simplified "blind-faith" idealism or, conversely, stopped-up "one's self is the only vessel of truth" is not wise, in my mind. With due respect to God, Ghandi, Obama, Mohammed, Obi-Wan-Kenobi and whomever else many of us think of ourselves as following.

          That said -- I do think its critical to remember Kool-aid of any kind is made with water. Preferably clear water, of course. Water is life-sustaining, literally (and for many, spiritually.)

          In its absence, humans perish.

          Sadly, in some places the opportunity to (again literally, metaphorically or spiritually) access free, non-poisoned water and commensurately nourishing cultures and the correlating opportunities their presence infers, have been corrupted.

          Nonetheless there are those for whom sugared-up water (and ideals) seems a useful alternative to dying in "un-illuminated" despair (whatever the hard to define state of illumination might be to any one person).

          Freedom, in my mind, is best achieved with balanced and sustained mixtures where individual, organizational and cultural reflections and life-abetting (not at others expense) actions are common ideals. And where intentional and engaged attention to seeking much greater clarity--by drinking a bit less manufactured Kool-aid--prevails.

          Particularly, I'd say, whenever endeavors are partaken in the name of forwarding freedom.

          Andrea
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        Jun 10 2011: I was hopeful and now not so much.

        That was truly unsatisfying. I asked for a lamp to see ‘freedom’ by and got a critique of my style of asking for the lamp.If there is ‘something’ solid in your claim to be a reservoir of freedom I am trying to build a bridge with the limitations of human words to it and to you.

        Here is the crux of my problem. How can anyone presume to know whether or not they are being embarrassingly arrogant in suggesting they have this enlightened freedom unless they have tested their metal in the actual fire?

        You can hope, you can think you might have it right but to declare to people who have lived the circumstances that you could do it better is so hard for me to understand.It seems to me to be the height of arrogance for a first world person to tell a 3rd world person that they know all about freedom or for one who knows little of sufferning to tell one who has suffered and survived that they could 'suffer' better.

        I cringe because it feels like people who once stubbed their toe telling double amputees to ‘smarten up and walk right’.

        One may hope that she has caught a glimpse of what it is to be a Nelson Mandela, an MLK or a Victor Frankl but making the leap that you are one until the rubber hits the road, the prejudice and injustice clicks in is more than a stretch. To presume to know what they knew and further to be certain you embody it is astounding to me and premised on unproven hope alone.

        These were all human beings all known for strong egos in their heydays (except for maybe Frankl but watch a few of his interviews and you will not see a wimp). Would you, not knowing what they would become one day presume to lecture them about egoless-ness or freedom? You might be doing that to people on this very site (and no I am not referring to myself).

        The essence of practical workable egoless-ness – I can only guess because I’m definitely not there- is thinking that another might know or be more than you can even glimpse yet.
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          Jun 10 2011: Debra --

          My intent was not to critique you. To explain: I related to what I see as the wisdom in your Kool-aid reference, which is why I built on it.

          I also agree regards the arrogance of First-World citizens importing their ideals into Third-World countries by force. I'm dubious of non-homegrown solutions, except where they are invited to augment the wisdom of the culture and, then, only as a minority voice.

          The developmental perspective I prefer is constructivism. Wherein each person in a society is afforded freedom to serve as both an agent of self and of their culture.

          For example: the amputee is engaged for their unique and critical abilities both before he lost his legs (perhaps in his role as a soldier or construction worker) and after he lost them (perhaps, in part, drawing on unbidden transformations he underwent in the course of his trauma.)

          All this to say I agree with you. This so-called egoless-ness so many seem to think is the answer seems to me (though I can't know for sure) as a whole-lot of navel gazing or halo-highlighting inertia to me.

          None of the transformative leaders we've been talking about here was inhuman. Most, as you say, had pretty big egos.

          What was "holy" about each was less about the ideas they spoke of, but how they embodied the human capacity to preserve and persist forward in their quests for integrity and equitably humane cultures. Knowing that by daring to do so they put themselves at great risk of assaults to not only their ego but, indeed, quite clearly their lives.

          As for you calling attention to my ego. Check out what I wrote on my Twitter--a year-ago, June. This, painfully inspired by awareness of my sometimes overzealous ego:

          "If only Soap Box sherpas could guide us back to equanimity before we get too windy. Air's thinner up high. Empathy deprivation deadly risk."

          On that note, I'm going to climb down -- you give me another reminder to keep my windiness in check.

          Thank you,
          Andrea
        • Jun 10 2011: ***Edited***
          Debra
          ...the amputees of this world need more than just being told to stand up and walk....lots of hurtng people just find more pain that way.

          I also think that yes, people who live in un-freedom, often can tell us more than we think.
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        Jun 10 2011: I want to express in the most sincere way my deep gratitude for your answer. Please note that I used the pronoun 'she' not in reference to you but in regard to the fact that we were both women. I am genuinely trying to be a better human being and where possible protect the vulnerable. I believe you are too.

        Your answer simply shines with humilty and generousity. Thank you.
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        Jun 12 2011: Hi Andrea,

        I think you would like Mary Parker Follett (perhaps you already do.)

        Here's a quote from her:

        "We can never understand the total situation without taking into account the evolving situation."

        You say:

        "In a world of myriad cultures, populated by diverse people of different beliefs and thoughts, it doesn't track that freedom is a simple self-created construct, fully conceived and catalyzed by isolated thought.

        It's dangerous if not self-aggrandizing to presume such."

        We are not in agreement on this point and I will attempt to give you a reasonable explanation of my position in short order but for now, I'll point out that if we accept that, to a certain extent words like "heart" and "mind" can be used interchangeably, we could take Kong Zi's quote and finish it with modified versions of any of the other quotes I posted. For example:

        To put the world in order, we must first put the nation in order; to put the nation in order, we must put the family in order; to put the family in order, we must cultivate our personal life; and to cultivate our personal life, we must first set our thoughts and actions right. – Kong Zi (Confucius) with Judith E. Pavluvcik

        Perhaps Kong Zi understood the "evolving situation" better than the others ... of maybe for the others, the evolving situation was implied if omitted. The point being that, regardless of were we start (world, nation, family,) we ultimately come to the human heart or the human mind.

        The teacher Silvanus whose writings were discovered at Nag Hammadi touches on what I mean when I talk about freedom the way I do although he refers to "wisdom" not freedom.

        "Wisdom calls you, yet you desire foolishness. A foolish man goes the way of the desire of every passion. He swims in the desires of life and has foundered. He is like a ship which the wind tosses to and fro, and like a loose horse which has no rider. For this one needed a rider which is reason ... before everything else ... know yourself."
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          Jun 12 2011: Thomas, that final paragraph demonstrates the tactic used by every evangelist for any type of 'spiritual enlightenment'.

          You quote some lofty name (each persuasion chooses their own) and call the person who honesty questions your 'authority' foolish and founded on base desires. In civilized words you say that a questioner is'tossed to and fro' (directionless) and like a riderless horse.

          It is 2011 and people are pretty tired of pied pipers who ain't got what it takes to back up their position and resort to denegrating the other's capacity to think. If you have the cards- lay them on the table do not try to diminish your adversary.
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          Jun 12 2011: Thomas/Andrea,

          I had been struggling with your post for days Andrea:

          "that freedom is a simple self-created construct, fully conceived and catalyzed by isolated thought.

          It's dangerous if not self-aggrandizing to presume such"

          I actually had come back to it once or twice a day :

          Even resonating fully with your work and values on transformation( you know I am a fan). , I couldn't reconcile this with my view that freedom is in dwelling and unassaialable or undertand whether you were even spekaing that view,.

          Thomas' Zon Zi resolves that for me..thank you Thomas. Thankk you very much for that. I can see that you speak from great depth and thought and that you are a scholar. I respect that very much. very well said.It took quite an extensive internal library to distill all that down for us here

          Where I got to, for myself is that In essence the capacity for mutually fruitful engagement (Andreas focus, I believe) requires first that we get our own house in order..free of all our own toxins. (my ocus and the Zon Zi)

          The way I think of freedom, the way I have spoke of freedom here I think is excatly in line with Zon Zi, with you Andrea and with you Thomas .It is through our own in dwelling freedom, our use of it in any stiuation no mater how dire to take responsibility for our own thoughts and actions that we can get ourselcve sin order and keep ourselves in order to engage the world fruitfully. That's what I was saying with my silly gallows analogy..even there when death at the hands of others is near we are capable through our inalienable inherent unassialable interior freedom to choose what we say and what we think and in that choice we can can be agents for chnage and trasnormation in others, in the world..
          Inother words the very interiority of that freedom, its inherent and uassiable nature..that qulaity of it makes it the portal from which we can engage in a transformation way with others, where we can work as member sof community.

          Thnaks again Thomas.
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          Jun 12 2011: Lindsay, I am humbly grateful for this story of human transcendence which will remain with me. As much as I wish to, I still cannot call it a life of freedom- transcendence yes.
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    Jun 12 2011: The best definition I found was one from Bertrand Russell

    “Freedom ..may be defined as the absence of obstacles to the realization of desires”

    And "The basis of a democratic state is liberty" Aristotle

    Then a few other quotes which I liked:

    “If you are not free to choose wrongly and irresponsibly, you are not free at all” Jacob Hornberger

    “Freedom is not worth having if it does not connote freedom to err.” Mahatma Gandhi

    “Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

    "“Everything that is really great and inspiring is created by the individual who can labor in freedom.” Albert Einstein

    "Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." Benjamin Franklin

    “The cost of freedom is always high, but Americans have always paid it. And one path we shall never choose, and that is the path of surrender, or submission.” John F Kennedy

    "We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. ..You ask, what is our policy? I will say: It is to wage war, by sea, land, and air, with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us; to wage war against a monstrous tyranny never surpassed in the dark, lamentable catalogue of human crime. That is our policy. You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: It is victory, victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be..We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender" Winston Churchill

    "Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same." Ronald Reagan

    "Freedom is the most precious of all our attainments and the most vulnerable."
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      Jun 12 2011: Interesting quotes and not one of them describes what I would call freedom.

      Of course words mean what we say they do so it is obvious that many people think freedom must be defended and fought for, etc. Some of us get quite emotional about the idea that freedom does not need to be defended.

      However that is my assertion: True freedom does not need defending. It cannot be assailed or compromised. It is not "a right;" it is a choice.

      It is not measured by what we can do - nor is the absence of freedom measured by what we cannot do.

      Freedom simply exists and we choose to experience or we don't.

      I accept there are certain "freedoms" that are worth defending - freedom of speech; freedom from hunger, etc. But those are not "freedom" they are "freedoms"

      And some of us (many of us?) choose not to experience freedom because we define it in terms of the presence or absence of freedoms - "I am not free because I cannot say, or do, anything I want."

      Some of us choose not to experience freedom for various other (apparently good) reasons; Maybe because we are subject to natural limitations - "I am going to die therefore I am not free; I cannot fly (and I want to) therefore I am not free; etc."

      Freedom simply exists and we choose to experience or we don't.
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        Jun 12 2011: @ Thomas Jones "not one of them describes what I would call freedom"

        That displays a profound lack of understanding and insight.

        “Freedom ..may be defined as the absence of obstacles to the realization of desires” Bertrand Russell

        The fulfillment of a persons desires, his basic needs and his higher desires are what we strive for ideally in this world.

        There can be no freedom if a person does not have enough food and water to eat and drink, clothes and housing. Once they have that, they desire more things - quality of life, music, art, go places, see things. They desire equality and fair play.

        But to attain these things there are often obstacles. I cannot imagine a more profound statement than Freedom being the absence of obstacles to the realization of desires

        A woman for example desires equality in Saudi Arabia or Sudan, a Christian, Jew, Gay or Atheist desires equality in Pakistan, Sudan or Afghanistan or simply not to be killed.

        According to you this Freedom simply exists there for these people and they choose to experience it or don't. This displays an ignorance so profound as to be staggering.

        "freedom does not need to be defended." also displays a a lack of understanding and a lack of the knowledge of history and the world as it is, so complete as to be staggering.

        Every person who is bullied need not defend against the bully, the blacks in America, Indians in India, Bangladeshis, Libyans, Sudanese didnt have to fight for their freedom - they could have simply chosen it.

        All those slaves today in the modern world, bonded labour, maids in the Middle East, they can simply choose to be free, not to be raped and beaten.

        And some people actually agree with you! Astounding!

        This only shows to me that people who have freedom in the west simply do not value or understand it. Its like saying why are the people in Africa without water and electricity - they can simply choose to turn on the tap or switch on the lights.
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          Jun 12 2011: Hi Richard.

          As I said, "Some of us get quite emotional about the idea that freedom does not need to be defended."

          I have no objection if you disagree with me, however, I do take exception to comments such as "...a profound lack of understanding and insight" and the like. Not because they might not be true. They might be. I might actually lack understanding and insight.

          No, the reason I take exception to comments like this, aside from their somewhat violent delivery, is the simple fact you do not know me. Nor do you know what I have experienced in my life.

          It is possible I have experienced all, most, or some of your hypothetical examples and, in the face of them, chosen to experience freedom.

          You simply do not know.

          Why do you find it astounding that others agree with my point of view; because it differs from your own?

          Is it not equally astounding (and not in a bad way) that others agree with your point of view?

          Isn't that the nature of what you refer to as freedom? Freedom to choose? Freedom to speak? And, yes, freedom to be critical?

          It seems some of us think of "freedom" as a commodity (like water and electricity) something that can be exhausted, expropriated, prohibited, or controlled ... maybe even taxed. I do not think of freedom in these terms. I do not mind if others do.

          In another post, I made a distinction between "freedom" and "civil liberties" and, personally, I would refer to what you call freedom as liberties. Perhaps that is a bit of a word game but not inappropriate given the topic of the thread: "What is freedom?"
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        Jun 12 2011: @ Thomas Jones"you do not know me. Nor do you know what I have experience in my life"

        Dear Thomas I was simply referring to your comments on Freedom. Your comments on freedom display that for your understanding of freedom, in my opinion, and I have given my reasons why.

        You maybe a very insightful person but not on your views expressed on freedom. That is all I was commenting on, not on you personally.

        I therefore request you not to get emotional - there was nothing personal intended.

        PS "Isn't that the nature of what you refer to as freedom? Freedom to choose? Freedom to speak? And, yes, freedom to be critical?"

        Of course, and the freedom to be astounded.

        "It seems some of us think of "freedom" as a commodity (like water and electricity) something that can be exhausted, expropriated, prohibited, or controlled ... maybe even taxed."

        I think you are creating a strawman here. First imply that I said freedom was a commodity then proceed to knock it down.

        Freedom is not there for the taking in many cases. I gave you the examples and you have neatly evaded those.

        "It is possible I have experienced all, most, or some of your hypothetical examples and, in the face of them, chosen to experience freedom."

        Those examples are not "hypothetical". They are real examples from this world. If you are unaware of them that is a different matter.

        I find your statement incredible. Can you give me an example how you have personally experienced slavery or torture and chosen freedom without fighting back or running away?
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          Jun 12 2011: Hi Richard,

          Thanks for your reply.

          I do not wish to make this discussion overly personal; the thread is about how we define freedom after all.

          I accept you think my replies show a "profound lack of understanding and insight" and that you do not see that comment as, in any way, personal. Fair enough.

          As to your other comments, I was not implying freedom is a commodity - I was stating, quite clearly, that some people seem to view it as such and I used your analogy as a reference to make my point.

          As to your hypothetical examples not being hypothetical ... I suggest they are unless you yourself have experienced them.

          And to answer your question: "Can you give me an example how you have personally experienced slavery or torture and chosen freedom without fighting back or running away?"

          I can.

          I have experienced virtually everything (everything) on your list to varying degrees - some for years at a time. To me (and perhaps to you too) they are not "hypothetical."

          So, in my own words, here is my definition of freedom:

          Freedom is a choice.
          Freedom is acceptance.
          Freedom is within.

          You do not have to agree with me.
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        Jun 13 2011: Hi Thomas,

        I clarified your "profound lack of understanding and insight" was only so far as your understanding of freedom is concerned, in my opinion. That is the subject we are discussing here.

        If you did not imply that I said freedom was a commodity, why make that assertive statement using my specific examples of water and electricity?

        That example I used was to illustrate that we in the west take freedom for granted, as we take our water and electricity for granted. It’s not just there for the taking. It is something that has to be fought for, achieved and guarded.

        I also disagree with your assertion that anything that you do not personally experience is hypothetical. That again is an astonishing statement. Everything in history, everything in the news then, according to you, is hypothetical. The Holocaust, every war and atrocity, earthquake or tsunami, are all hypothetical.

        You are merely arguing from authority. By implying that your wealth of experience is greater than mine, your authority wins your argument against mine.

        Surely we can gather from the collective experience of humans to achieve our wisdom?

        You have not provided any example of your experience where you chose to have freedom in a situation where persons took it away. Situations similar to the examples I have given, of women in Saudi Arabia or homosexuals in Islamic countries etc.

        You have merely said you could, and then provided your definitions of freedom.

        You say – “you do not have to agree with me”. No I don’t have to, and I don’t.

        I don’t agree with you because you have not provided any argument why your definitions are correct, other than the faith we should have in you of your experiences which you have not shared.

        And you have not answered any of arguments I have put forward to my definition.
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          Jun 13 2011: Hi Richard,

          You have an interesting communication style. Let me comment on a few things you say:

          - "You are merely arguing from authority."

          I am not arguing at all.

          Certainly, I disagree with your definition of freedom (I understand it and I disagree with it) and you disagree with mine (you might or might not understand it - I cannot tell.) I have no desire to change your mind.

          - "By implying that your wealth of experience is greater than mine, your authority wins your argument against mine."

          I have not implied my experience is greater than yours (although you seem to have inferred it.) As a rule, if someone misunderstands something I have said, I take full responsibility. So please accept this as clarification: I am not implying that my wealth of experience is greater than yours or that my authority wins my argument against yours.

          To repeat, I am not arguing with you. I can accept your point of view without agreeing with it.

          How could I not?

          We have been asked the question "What is Freedom?"

          Your definition is as valid as mine. Although you do not seem to share in that sentiment.

          - "Surely we can gather from the collective experience of humans to achieve our wisdom?"

          I agree.

          - "You have not provided any example of your experience where you chose to have freedom in a situation where persons took it away."

          Nor will I. Least of all on a public forum - and to what end to "settle an argument" I am not even having?"

          - "I don’t agree with you because you have not provided any argument why your definitions are correct, other than the faith we should have in you of your experiences which you have not shared."

          Would you not find it ironic if I "defended" my definition of freedom after stating freedom does not need to be defended?

          I would.

          You add much to what I say: I do not expect anyone to agree with me nor do I expect people to have faith in my experiences.

          - "And you have not answered any of arguments I have put forward to my definition."

          (Cont'd)
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          Jun 13 2011: (Cont'd)

          Richard,

          I may have missed your definition of freedom. I have not read all of the posts yet.

          Are you referring to the list of quotes?

          When I said I understand your definition and disagree with it - I was referring to the list of quotes.
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          Jun 13 2011: Beautifully navigated Thomas and I never now how to respknd to these invented arguements and charges of asserted superior knowledge. well done. I may steal your stuff. And thanks for your consistently gracious, civil and intelligent speaking on all things.
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        Jun 13 2011: On a very basic level Freedom is the freedom to live – the right to life. On a higher level it is the freedom to live our lives to the fullest, in dignity and honour.

        These freedoms are taken away if you do not have the right to drive or vote or declare your beliefs or dress as you wish or have a proper education or equal rights to government facilities or the law.

        Many people in this world do not have these freedoms. If you study history, we in the west have only come to these freedoms after years of struggle against those who take them away from us.

        Truly Freedom is the most precious of all our attainments and the most vulnerable. It has to be guarded, protected and fought for.
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          Jun 13 2011: Richard..you are speaking about curtailmentson free speeach or action , or degradations of the human condition that exist in law or the opertaion of law. ( directly ir indirectly). That is the most widely held view..what most people think of.

          The point that many of us have tried to make doesnt oppose or challenge that. It simply states thatfreedom is indwelling and that no extrenal authority, no degaradtion of our circyumstances can rob us of that internal inaliebable freedom to speak and think from our own soirits, from our own hearts..

          It's unimaginble that such a beutaiful, widely held, healing and inspirational idea that there is an inviolable freedom within..woulld cause such disturbance. As Thomas says..there is no arguement. The two ideas are not in opposition to one another.

          That you can take no comfort in that idea is all that needs saying, I would think.
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        Jun 13 2011: Hi Thomas,

        You say "I am not arguing at all". For a person who is not arguing you are doing a pretty good job.

        "Would you not find it ironic if I "defended" my definition of freedom after stating freedom does not need to be defended?"

        No. You are not using the same meaning of “defend” in the two cases. When you state that freedom does not need to be “defended”, you mean that it cannot be attacked and taken away. You state this as such. But to “defend” that statement would mean to provide explanations why you think that is correct.

        The definitions you provide of freedom are really qualities you attribute to freedom, without stating what exactly freedom is. (Freedom is a choice. Freedom is acceptance. Freedom is within. Freedom simply exists and we choose to experience or we don't)

        I have stated that on a very basic level Freedom is the freedom to live – the right to life. On a higher level it is the freedom to live our lives to the fullest, in dignity and honour.

        These are the universal desires of all human beings. We also know from simple observation, if not personal experience, that there are limitations to these desires. Some of these limitations are deliberately set by people who are bullies or tyrants.

        You state that freedom simply exists and we choose to experience or we don't. That it cannot be taken away.

        Let us take a hypothetical case of a person who is being dragged away to be stoned because he/she has committed adultery. What is this freedom of yours, that simply exists, that he/she has and that he/she cannot be deprived of? That he/she chooses to experience or not?
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          Jun 13 2011: Hey Richard,

          QUOTE:

          "I have stated that on a very basic level Freedom is the freedom to live – the right to life. On a higher level it is the freedom to live our lives to the fullest, in dignity and honour. ...

          "Let us take a hypothetical case of a person who is being dragged away to be stoned because he/she has committed adultery. What is this freedom of yours, that simply exists, that he/she has and that he/she cannot be deprived of? That he/she chooses to experience or not?"

          So are you saying that the latter, as abhorrent as it is, precludes the former?

          Are you saying that someone who is being stoned CANNOT, in that moment, live what little of their life remains to the fullest, with dignity, and with honour?

          If you think this is NOT possible, then, in regards to a definition of freedom, we are probably not in agreement.

          However, if you think it is possible (regardless of how difficult it is or how rare an occurrence it might be,) then you have your answers to the questions: "What is this freedom of yours, that simply exists, that he/she has and that he/she cannot be deprived of? That he/she chooses to experience or not?"
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        Jun 13 2011: @ Thomas Jones "Are you saying that someone who is being stoned CANNOT, in that moment, live what little of their life remains to the fullest, with dignity, and with honour?

        If you think this is NOT possible, then, in regards to a definition of freedom, we are probably not in agreement."

        Dear Thomas I just fail to understand your thought processes.

        I came across a horrible picture of a Somali woman buried almost up to her neck in the ground pleading with her eyes for her life. And you are going to condemn her because she is unable to live her life as the stones rain down on her to the fullest, with dignity, and with honour? That she didnt make that choice?

        Maybe you can, but we cannot all be super heroes. Most of us are just ordinary folks who would prefer to live our lives and not be stoned to death or imprisoned, who think that is not the way to live their lives to the fullest, with dignity, and with honour.

        To my simple mind committing that act on her is depriving her of her freedom to live, the most basic freedom we have, and a freedom which, according to you cannot be taken away.

        http://arbroath.blogspot.com/2009/11/somali-woman-stoned-to-death-after.html

        http://english.aljazeera.net/news/africa/2009/11/20091119112014611167.html
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          Jun 13 2011: Hi Richard,

          QUOTE: "I just fail to understand your thought processes."

          With respect, I think you fail to understand my thought processes because you are not listening to them. You are listening to yours.

          You have a habit of insinuating your thoughts into my statements.

          For example, the idea that I would condemn anyone because they might not be able to live their life to the fullest as the stones rain down upon them, is a fabrication on your part.

          I did not say that. I did not imply that.

          I lived in Africa for seven years and I have seen, first hand, scenes similar to the one you describe. If I could have reached out and magically saved the people involved I would have.

          We are not always afforded the things we want.

          "Most of us are just ordinary folks who would prefer to live our lives and not be stoned to death or imprisoned, who think that is not the way to live their lives to the fullest, with dignity, and with honour."

          I agree with you 100%

          "To my simple mind committing that act on her is depriving her of her freedom to live, the most basic freedom we have, and a freedom which, according to you cannot be taken away."

          I did not say life cannot be taken away; I said true freedom cannot be taken away.

          Again, you have added sentiments I have not expressed or implied.

          Do you see how that might make it challenging for you to understand my thought processes?
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          Jun 13 2011: All of us who are thinking feeling beings cry as if it were our own loved one when we see or here about anyone suffering the absolute extremes of degradation and loss of liberry..your image of the somali woman did that

          it's the height of compassion and love to hope that in that moment inside there was some kind of refuge she could create or herself that is inside, unassailable. The ages old tradition of inner freedom is exactly that..anultimate affirmation that we always posses our minds, our own hearts, our own inner freedom to form our own thoughts,frame our own intentions,

          Tthat hope of inner freedom and its availability to any of us at the worst possible moments is in any way a condemnation is just. incomprehensible. I have no access to the thinking that produced that thought..

          If I were there witnessing what you described unable to help her in any way at all the only prayer hope and blessing I could offer that woman would be that she has found in hersefl what Frankl found. I would wish her that. Pray that she has that because the alternative..that she would have only terror and fear in those last moments is intolerable.

          The notionof inner unassailable freedom and our hope to access it in every moment is a poiwerful exoression of compassion, love and humanity.
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          Jun 13 2011: Lindsay, now we hear your heart's cry and understand better.

          This idea is a refuge for those who feel they have no power to change the events in the full scope of their horror and inhumanity. Hoping may not make it so but staying only with hoping is not active enough to prevent it from happening one more time. This is why I fight this idea- not to crush anyone's spirit or beliefs. Pretending the pain away passively allows it to continue and diminishes the victory that every courageous person manifests if they die at the hands of monsters.

          While I do not have this pseudo hope to offer because I know too many people with the same humanity have died looking evil in the eye, I think science and near death documentation asuages the fear and terror you speak of.
          In terrible deaths there is good evidence that natural morphine like substances flood the body reducing the horror in the last moments. Those who have been on the brink speak of great peace, love and acceptance. It may not go far to reduce our horror- but it does speak of the mercy that we muster from our greater selves in our final moments.
          I hope this is of some comfort to you.
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        Jun 13 2011: The biggest freedom we have is the freedom to live and not be killed. To live our lives to the fullest, with dignity, and with honour is freedom. There is no freedom apart from our lives, or which does not involve our lives.

        When you take away that life you take away freedom. When you commit torture and cruelty on a person you deprive them of dignity and honour.

        Thats what I think. Goodnight.
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        Jun 13 2011: @ Lindsay "the absolute extremes of degradation and loss of liberry"

        Extremes only expose fallacies and make clear the correctness or otherwise of an argument. The extreme example of murder is not rare unfortunately. 800,000 people were slaughtered in Rwanda, macheteed to death mostly, 8 million Jews and others killed in the Nazi camps of Europe, 1 million Armenians and hundreds of thousands of Greeks and other minorities in Turkey, 400,000 in Darfur and close to 3 million displaced about a million died in Southern Sudan, millions more displaced or enslaved. And thousands have been slaughtered and this is continuing by extremists every day.

        This is only in recent history so those "extreme cases" are not rare.

        Dont tell me this had nothing to do with their freedom, that their freedom was not taken away. That internally they had a choice to be free.

        What about animals? Can their freedom be taken away? They are not capable of higher thought or "internal freedom". So would there be no condition where there was any freedom of animals or loss of freedom for them? Are caged animals the same as those in their natural habitat? Or those kept in small cages the same as those allowed to roam in pastures? Or has that nothing to do with their freedom?

        Internal freedom maybe Thomas Jones hobby horse, but unfortunately is a fallacy.

        James Walker put it so clearly "I'd prefer to BE free than FEEL free. Just like I'd prefer to be actually healthy than feel healthy".

        According to Thomas Jones those people could have chosen to feel free and lived life to the fullest, with dignity, and with honour as they were being macheteed to death. That their freedom could not have been taken away.

        But I doubt it. I doubt they could have chosen any such thing and in my books their most precious freedom, the right to life, was taken away.

        There is no freedom apart from our lives, or which does not involve our lives.
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      Jun 13 2011: Richard hi
      As we're running our of time a bit on this question, do you have a point of view about Freedom as a Responsibility, or indeed that Freedom and Responsibility are sort-of synonyms?
      As an autonomous individual, you have complete freedom, but with that comes the responsibility of self-relaince, compassion for others, respect of others' rights etc.
      I have warmed to this idea that Freedom = Responsibility.
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        Jun 13 2011: Hi James, no I think that Freedom is the capacity to achieve ones desires. There are natural limitations to achieving ones desires. Such as money, health, consideration of others.

        Responsibility is simply one of the self-constraints to freedom.

        That government gives you the most freedom which places the least restrictions on the capacity to achieve your desires.

        Freedom like everything is relative. Thus the U.K. or New Zealand may apply restraints on this capacity, but they may apply less restraints than governments do on people in Syria or Saudi Arabia for example.

        Thus Bertrand Russell's definition - Freedom is defined as the absence of obstacles to the realization of desires, in my opinion is the best one.
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          Jun 13 2011: I see that, Richard.
          The "freedom is absence of obstacles and constraints..." works, but I don't love it, as it's still a negative definition, ie: it's describing the absence of something as opposed to the presence.

          Putting aside 'Health" (although some health issues can be self-inflcted), you could say that the constraints you mentioned are the consequences of responsibility, ie: your responsibility to earn money, keep healthy, etc.

          Let's assume (hey, one day I hope) a World without Government as a natural state. And I do think notion of Government is a bit of a distraction, Freedom means you taking charge of your own life, your own soul if you like, and choosing to do what you want. Could be suicide, could be growing crops, could be inventing the internet etc etc. Freedom is, I think, the same as responsibility.
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        Jun 13 2011: Hi James I dont think it is a negative definition. What about - the capacity to achieve ones desires? Thats positive.

        Its because there will always be constraints on that capacity that the degree of absence of obstacles and constraints to achieve ones desires defines freedom.

        Responsibility is just a legitimate constraint to freedom. I have the freedom to have a party and play loud music, but the responsibility not to play it so loud that it disturbs the neighbours.

        Then there are illegitimate constraints. Those are also abundant. Unfair and discriminatory laws.
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    Jun 10 2011: I would think that Mrs Ghandi's quote could read like this for me

    The ability to listen to and learn from others, the will to remain open for new ideas and the courage to question myself and my deeds is essential for my progress
    thank you Andrea
  • Jun 7 2011: I would say freedom is a state of existence which would allow us to dwell and interact with all others in a manner that is mutually beneficial, to think and to act upon those thoughts, with the caveat that no harm comes to anyone or anything.

    This is a state that we aspire to but I don't think any societal structure, political or otherwise, has achieved. Ironically, human nature being as imperfect as it is, someone would always be trying to subjugate someone else, so it is a state that we will probably never achieve. Democracies achieve a semblance of this state with some limitations on what we can say or do, and with enforcement of those limitations. So there is relative freedom, never absolute freedom.

    I would agree that it is easier to contrast what it is with what it is not. So, for example, it is the state of existence in which, if I find it necessary to worship a God, I can do so without fear of repercussions and without the need to diminish or harm anyone else. If I choose or have reason to think that the Earth is not the centre of the Universe, I can do so without fear of imprisonment. If I choose to travel outside my geographic boundaries I can do so without fear of harassment or worse. Just some thoughts :-)
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      Jun 7 2011: nicely put. i would suggest a slight modification: mutual benefit would be replaced by mutual consent. benefit is not measurable, we have to trust people's own valuations on that.
      • Jun 7 2011: I agree - consent is a better word. Thanks
  • Jun 12 2011: Love is freedom and because love cast out all fear when you are not afraid you are free.
  • Jun 8 2011: Something weaker ones have to beg from powerful ones?
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      Jun 9 2011: shab: I'm curious. Who do you (personally) consider the powerful ones?
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    Jun 8 2011: Freedom is a letting go of all expectation and obligation.
    It is not a shedding of physical shackles, but rather an emancipation of mental constraints.
    It is not a place or time it is in fact an experience that is very rare indeed.
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      Jun 8 2011: That's good!
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        Jun 8 2011: Thank you Debra, it's good to speak with you again.
        Somethings are just indefinable, like freedom, love, the important things in life.
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      Jun 13 2011: Brian
      I am actually wondering about Freedom being the opposite of what you say.
      Not, the letting go of obligation, but embracing responsibility.
      I think Freedom, you as an autonomous individual, is rooted in Responsibility. You're on your own, and you have the responsibility to look after yourself, eg: the state isn't going to that for you.
      In the same way, Freedom means having the responsibility to respect the rights and freedoms of others, and to show compassion,
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        Jun 13 2011: Hey James..welcome back..we have need you here. Thnaks fr this line of inquiry and for getting us back onto a more furtiful path. I like your ideas but I would say freedom is always there in us as an infinite "possibility". It's what we Choose ( that's th eopertaive word in freedom..choice) to do with it
        It has no value in itself..we can choose to degrade,to fight, to shout, to harm

        we can choose dignity, resason,compasssion, example.
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        Jun 13 2011: James
        You are right of course, we have heard it said many times that "freedom is not free", there is a price to pay for it and that implies responsibility to it's value and gift.
        But the very nature of one being accountable and having to take some action to be free is in itself limiting and constricting.
        No I believe that freedom is a choice and the walls that exist around it are not physical but rather mental, self imposed. Freedom is not an apparent thing, we can't look at someone or some Nation and see freedom, that is an institutional freedom, an acceptable term for a lifestyle.
        True freedom must be experienced internally and may well be inexplicable.
        I'd love to hear your thoughts on this.
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          Jun 8 2011: Let's hope their seeds are 'blowin' in the wind' and ready to settle in new hearts:
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          Jun 8 2011: AS the roots dig in there is the pain of adjustment and the new growth of resolve. (maybe even impatience)
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        Jun 9 2011: So Birdia, are the flowers blooming in Morocco?
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        Jun 9 2011: I was thinking the flowers of freedom.
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    Jun 8 2011: Freedom is 'the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint' or "immunity from an obligation or duty". It’s a myth there is no such thing as freedom as long as we have norms and laws. If you live within a community you can never be free. Humans are cultural animals – the word ‘culture’ cannot be reconciled with freedom.

    We are all enslaved and imprisoned to an extent – taxation is direct slavery – border restriction tells you we live in confinement.
  • Jun 7 2011: a simply human invention and an illusion.
    then, I think that it is about a relative value to another: a prisoner can walk in a his room but there remains a prisoner. I walk on the planet Ground, I am also prisoner of this planet but it is said that I am free.
    - the prisoner cannot leave but it wants of it, its value of desire is to leave. To leave is synonymous with freedom here.
    - me which goes, I board not really desire for starting from this planet (I know that it is not possible thus I make with), my value thus remains: to be able to continue to go where I wish it.
    Relation between values.
  • Jun 7 2011: Excellent topic James. I have thought about this concept quite a bit.

    First of all I think we have to understand that freedom is never absolute. We are given certain degrees of freedom. Freedom is the granted ability to make a choice.

    If this question is also asked in a moral context, some interesting other questions need to be asked:
    Can one persons freedom, limit another persons freedom?
    Does freedom mean I can choose to think or act in any way I please?
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    Jun 6 2011: In what context?

    On the whole to me freedom is a benefit and an encumbrance. It means to be solely responsible for choices you make.
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      Jun 7 2011: I agree Christ, except, I would think it means to be fully aware and conscious of the consequences for the choices you make.
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      Jun 7 2011: Agreed!

      Freedom of what?

      Are we free to grow antlers or regerate limbs? or free to decide what to eat? or free from suppression?
      ...
      Freedom as such is void
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        Jun 7 2011: Christophe,
        Hi there, yes, I have struggled to define Freedom, hence the question.
        But, it's easy to say when freedom doesn't exist, eg: restricted from expressing a view, restricted from free travel. But, the idea of a travel restriction.. If I can't travel because I need my Government's permission than hey obviously a blow to my freedom. But if I can't buy the airline ticket to the Maldives because I don't have enough money, that not's an impediment to my freedom.
        So, I think it's a fascinating word, that we all use all the time.
        But I am interested in trying to get to a "positive" definition rather than a "negative" one.
        Maybe you're right, the concept of freedom is a bit of an empty box, but given it seen as such an important concept, enshrined in constitutions and tattoos (Freedom Or Death...), highly emotive symbols from the past (Work Makes Free), I think it's important to understand...
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          Jun 7 2011: Hmm, In statistics, we use the term "degrees of freedom", as a measure of the flexibility of the model (compared to the data)...

          So freedom can be seen as the range of options/things you can do at any given point in time?
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      Jun 7 2011: Christopher Scheidler, hello
      The answer you allude to that Freedom equals Responsibility is also an answer a friend gave me the other day.
      I think it's quite useful...
      Do I have the Freedom to fly to the US?
      - Have I taken responsibility to earn the money to pay for the ticket?
      - Have I taken responsibility to fill out the ESTA form?
      - Have I acted responsibly in my life, so the US immigration folks think I am worthy to visit their excellent country?
      - Have I made my own way to the airport
      Etc
      I think it's an interesting answer, and a "day in the life" way of thinking of what is Freedom is quite a fun way of thinking about from the moment you get up, how do encounter "Freedom To...", "Freedom From...", and this idea of "Responsibility".
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    Jun 13 2011: Lindsay, thank you for Beth’s exquisite story.

    Reacting to your earlier comment: I like how you wove Freedom as both indwelling and inter-relational engagement.

    To build: Beth’s story illustrates how external “others” abet internal freedom.

    A friend brought Beth the snail with potted wild violets. Which left her initially overwhelmed wondering how she’d care for it from her imprisoned physical state. Engaging solutions, Beth noticed what they brought. Namely, life she hadn’t perceived possible at that point.

    Caring for the snail, she began appreciating (to use Thomas’ term) it as exemplary of life. She took responsibility (James’ term) for her access by meeting the snails needs. In these ways she constructed even while accessing this little freedom, on her own. And as you note, now engages others by sharing her story of discovery.

    I contend this access (hers first, ours vicariously) was abetted exogenously. Her friend co-created her freedom.

    While others brought bouquets of cut flowers in attempts to cheer her, this friend brought living things from woods -- where Beth once sought solace. The cut flowers withered and died, leaving Beth the problem of disposing them, if not a reminder of her vulnerability.

    The simple organic gifts (violets and snail) offered potentials she could engage and nurture. (And bring to mind comments by Tim and Birdia.)

    Thus her friend provided opportunity for Beth to reach a life-sustaining potential, by building a self-healing “in-situ” ecosystem. A powerful reminder and impetus to embrace her heretofore unperceived self-agency in accessing this freedom, even while she was otherwise physically dependent on others.

    Engaging this she discovered her capacity to build a "mini-culture" in an otherwise stifling place. This free-space was unmistakably (if unintentionally) co-created by her friend.

    I’d add: by engaging Beth’s story within James discussion you, he (and others here) abet further potentials.

    Andrea
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    Jun 13 2011: I have heard that freedom is our very essence.

    But I think we are afraid of ourselves and the power we have when we express that.

    I am afraid...
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    Jun 13 2011: I wanted a gut check so I asked this question over on the 'Taste of Iran' thread where there are people from Iran discussing the issues facing their country.

    Here is the first reply which I share now as time is running short"

    @Debra, in my view freedom is a subjective matter. It should be judged based on human rights charter as minimum.
    Freedom only makes sense in the context of society. As human being forms societies it restrict itself in favour of safety and economy. Restrictions go far, then freedom comes to rescue.
    Since freedom makes sense only in the context of society, freedom being a state of mind is counter-intuitive.
    In my opinion freedom is consisted of social freedom (what to wear, where to go, who to pray, etc.) and freedom of speech (criticize anybody, anything etc.)
    If you question what are the degree of it, I would say it depends to the society, however there should be some minimum for it as human rights charter is a good guide.
    If in Australia I be baned from going to shops top less (as a man) I would feel my freedom is violated, but I wouldn't expect that in Iran. But if I am forced to wear hijab or not to wear hijab (this is a minimum accepted for a human being) regardless of the society I am living in, my freedom is violated and doest matter it is Iran or France. Freedom of speech etc. is more obvious.
    I believe freedom is a part of a bigger whole: freedom+human rights+democracy
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      Jun 13 2011: I thought that was a cooking post you know. I was quite excited because I quite like Persian foods, and have some Iranian friends. And I was a bit disappointed to find out we weren't going to share recipes :( But in the end, SR did, so it was all fine.
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        Jun 13 2011: James, One of the Iranians, I think it was Naeim whose quote is above posted an entire cooking series and it was really quite good. You might enjoy it and find the freedom to cook in a new style!(I mention freedom in my post so we won't get deleted at the request of mad flaggers!)

        PS I still didn't get any of your stories of ecstatic freedom for my list ....but then maybe not.........
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        Jun 13 2011: My guest this week is the author of Sound of a Wild Snail Eating.( http://www.amazon.com/Sound-Wild-Snail-Eating/dp/1565126068)

        A tiny and exquisite book that has caused a huge stir world wide and won Elisabeth awards and honors.

        The miracle of her book is that it was written from her bed in bits and snatches of time when she was well enough to do anything at all. Her book is about a common snail from the woods a friend placed in a terrarium near her bed that was literally her prison.
        Eisabeth was a prisoner of a devastating illness. Of the agonies and degradation of that. Often alone with not a sole to help for long hours..not even able to make aphone call or get to a bathroom . But inside she had that freedom I have been talking about..that ability to decide.how she would speak and act what she would do with what she had left. Elisabeth says she is not a person of faith and has never had a spiritual practice..

        She is just a very tiny perfectly ordinary person left alone in a bed with her freedom. By the way, the book barely mentions her agonies or her circumstances. It only celebrates the snail.

        Even now, with almost nothing left in her body to sustain her she is a powerful advocate in medical ethics turning medicine and science inside out in how they look at patients,.even though she really only has two or three fairly good hours in any day.

        What can anyone say to that. It's all there. The interiority of freedom..unassailable and inalienable; unspeakable challenges to external freedoms through painful disease and isolation;, yet she engaged and is changing the world for others. From her bed.

        (Note..hope this is in th eright place..Elisabeth asked me to edit references I had made to specific insititutions andrea she will love your beaytiful response to her story.)
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      Jun 13 2011: Andrea..this won't land in the right place thread wise but hope you see it..I just left a message for Elisabeth to read your comment..it looks as if you read her book and know it as I hadn't mentioned the violets

      I invited her to also create a ted profile and leave her own thoughts which Debra will thorougly enjoy. Elisabeth said she did not experience of think about her engagement with the little snail and her investigation which became this amazing book as "freedom". She's thinking about whether she considers that still "freedom". Her ideas on feedom are much more closely aligned with Debra's. Which adds a whole other dimension to the debate

      She will enjoy your beautiful and insightful analysis which I think continues co-curthers ( like that???) the effort to unite all these ideas of freedom in one amazing story.

      Thank You
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    Jun 12 2011: QUOTE: "Thomas were you by any chance at that monet of perfected relationship reading Chapter 6 of Robert Sadellos book "Silence"?"

    Hi Lindsay,

    If it was recent ... only if it was held on the fast train from Beijing to Taiyuan.

    TJ
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    Jun 12 2011: "just another word for nothing left to loose"
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      Jun 13 2011: Tx BoBBie
      ..cause its nothing
      tin' if we ain't free
      Love
      Janice
      From The Pearl..I have it first edition vinyl..
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    Jun 12 2011: Hi Debra,

    I was not implying Andrea (or anyone else) is foolish. And I do not think Andrea will interpret the post the way you did ... but I'm sure she can speak for herself to that point.

    Silvanus's quote is addressed to "mankind" (not Andrea) and the point of my posting it is it relates to man going "the way of the desire of every passion." In other words man doing what he wants. Which as you might recall relates to my definition of freedom.

    I believe Silvanus was a gnostic I do not think he was an evangelist ... although he might have been. I certainly am not.

    You seem angry.

    Thomas
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    Jun 11 2011: I'm trying again.

    Freedom is a part of "free will" or something like free will, but having a "plateau" of free will, does not mean you will know you have freedom.

    - I don't know how to simplify freedom, and it is bothersome. Perhaps we can only have things that are "-like" our interpretations, but not completely there. Doing that constantly in considerations isn't recommended.

    When I REALLY LOOK AT IT, I think freedom is education. But education is so broad.
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    Jun 10 2011: Open question:

    Would you rather be free or feel free?
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      Jun 10 2011: No question!

      Feel free.
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      Jun 10 2011: red pill
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        Jun 13 2011: As in speed or as in Morpheus' red pill? If the latter, what exactly does that represent?
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      Jun 13 2011: Tim, as ever great perspective, and one that's refreshingly different to mine.
      I'd ask, would you rather be healthy or feel that you're healthy?
      I think, and I emphasise think, that probably I'd prefer to BE free than FEEL free. Just like I'd prefer to be actually healthy than feel healthy?
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        Jun 13 2011: I second James' opinion (gasp)!
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        Jun 13 2011: James: Your health analogy is an interesting one. What if you go to the doctor feeling pain. They run a battery of tests on you and say, nope, you're healthy. Would that be acceptable to you?

        I think what we are talking about is really two sides of the same coin. If the indicators say that we are free, but we don't feel free, then something is out of whack (or someone is trying to deceive us).
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      Jun 13 2011: I guess i would answer this in the light of Dicken's a Christmas Carol.
      Remember when Marley asks Scrooge " Why do you doubt your senses?" Scrooge says something to the effect that ' because a little thing turns them into a cheat and that an apparition could be nothing more than a bit of underdone potatoe."
      My point is that 'feelings' are changable where actual freedom is something solid and secure.

      (Thanks for the therapy Tim- it answers my personal angst and strivings below.)
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    Jun 10 2011: Covered a lot of good ground here so far..

    Some quotes of Freedom Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth.
    John F. Kennedy

    I am involved in a freedom ride protesting the loss of the minority rights belonging to the few remaining earthbound stars. All we demanded was our right to twinkle.
    Marilyn Monroe


    Our greatest happiness does not depend on the condition of life in which chance has placed us, but is always the result of a good conscience, good health, occupation, and freedom in all just pursuits.
    Thomas Jefferson

    We cannot expect that all nations will adopt like systems, for conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth.
    John F. Kennedy
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    TED

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    Jun 9 2011: Several comments have been removed from this thread for being off-topic. We encourage you to keep your comments focused on the topic of freedom in this Conversation.

    Thank You,

    TED Conversation Admin
    conversations@ted.com
  • Jun 9 2011: Hello,
    freedom is having no limit against Intend.

    for example:
    if you want to eat a food and in any reason you can not you are not free.
    if you want to be in a place for example in moon and can not you are not free
    if you want to be in a time in past or future and can not you are not free
    if you want to to go some where at the moment and you can not you are not free
    if you want a girl and you can not have her you are not free
    if you want to have money and food without working and you can not you are not free
    if you want to have any kind of enjoy and you cant you are not free
    if you want to be healthy but you are sick you are not free
    if you want to go out of universe and you can not you are not free
    if you want to not eat food and you can not you are not free
    if you have any kind of need and you can not satisfy it you are not free
    if you want to have the age of ten billion years and you are forced to die before that age you are not free
    until human is in prison of time and place human is not free
    until human should die human is not free.

    ADDED LATER:
    DEATH is the most important obstacle against freedom of human.

    [sorry, what is the meaning of P.S. at the end of comments?]
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    Jun 8 2011: I would say, to start with, free food and free water...
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    Jun 8 2011: Freedom is having the knowledge of how not free you really are...
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      Jun 8 2011: Wow Nicholas- were you reading my mind or sensing my dilemma?
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        Jun 8 2011: I have always asked myself the question "what is freedom?" and as I agreed below with Christopher Scheidler, the context of freedom needs to be established prior to analyzing what type or kind of freedoms you are talking about exactly. Regardless, all questions deserve an answer!
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      Jun 8 2011: we are always in every moment infinitely free..all contraints on our freedom are there by our consent or our passivity..which is lower down the ladder than consent..
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        Jun 8 2011: If a person is not at the same spirtual place or has not understood this intutively this sounds like mumbo jumbo.

        Faith based ideas of life urge quiet acceptance of suffering and surrender of life until I die and there will be a reward in the after life. What about now and how is it done now? And is it real or just a manifestation of life when daddy has left you the means to do your own thing?
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          Jun 9 2011: "spiritual mumbo jumbo"?.That freedom is indwelling.? Doesn't indwelling mean the same as inalienable?
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    Jun 8 2011: It seems most people who have posted think "freedom" means the freedom to "do" something - act, speak, think, choose, engage one's full potential, and so on.

    Others have said we do not have the freedom to do act, speak, or think as we choose. As Ehis Odijie put it, "It’s a myth there is no such thing as freedom as long as we have norms and laws" and, of course, he is correct. We are not "free to act" as we will, especially, if we live with other people in a community (that would be all of us.)

    So, if we are not free to act without hindrance or interference that is either self- or culturally imposed, what is freedom?

    I have said freedom is the ability to not do what one wants to do.

    If I am compelled to act on my desires, I am effectively enslaved by them. I am not free.

    However, if I can enjoy equanimity while willingly abstaining from the things I want to do, one could say I am free.

    I have many heroes, some of them have been imprisoned, tortured, even killed and many of them seemed to exude freedom even though their liberties were extensively or completely curtailed. I am thinking of Victor Frankl, Nelson Mandela, Jesus, Socrates, etc.

    Freedom, to me, is a state of awareness or being that would allow me to experience happiness even if I suffered from cerebromedullospinal disconnection ("locked-in syndrome.") Anything less is simply a degree of enslavement.

    In a word freedom is: appreciation.

    Appreciation of what?

    Life

    "Life," not what we can DO with life.

    Don't get me wrong, I love all the things we can do with life ... like this conversation we are having, for example, or eating fresh blueberries but, for me, freedom, if it is conditional on what I can do, is not freedom at all.
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      Jun 8 2011: we can always choose whether to accept what the wolrld around us attempts to impose on us. I have done that always..since I was 3 or 4..observed, listended.reconciled with my inner gyroscope and decided for myself what I would speak from and to, what would guide my action and my purpose. Of course always with consequences.

      no one can give us freedom..no one can take it away..we can choose always.
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        Jun 8 2011: Lindsay, I have heard that expression often. Is it as easy as that?How much freedom did the dying slave in hold of a stinking cargo ship have? (and respectfully - how much good was it?)

        How much freedom does the mother in a famine stricken country have when deciding to prostitute herself or let her kids starve?

        I am not being tough here, just trying to 'get it'.

        Freedom may be a state of mind but it is a state that is a lot easier to enter with a full belly and a government that protects your human rights.

        Help me align my thinking if you can. It is also much easier if you have been raised in an environment that permitted and encouraged freedom.
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          Jun 11 2011: Yes, of course, it is harder to awaken to any notion of inner freedom if one is oppressed, degraded, enslaved or exploited..but it is still there in side, that inherent inviolable freedom

          Frankl clung to that as his refuge from the torture he endured

          ."“The one thing you can’t take away from me is the way I choose to respond to what you do to me. The last of one’s freedoms is to choose ones attitude in any given circumstance.”
          -- Viktor Frankl

          So it is always there and available to us, and perhaps we need to access it most, as Frankl did, when there are soul numbing thnings happening to us, or those we love over which we have no actual control from which we have no actual escape. We still always have the sanctuary of our interiority..of our freedom to form our own thoughts and intentions.; and through that to actually transform our experience.

          On the way to the gallows we can scream and writhe in fear or dread or we can redefine those moments for ourselves and all witnesses. in composure and dignity. We can choose. We always have transformative power in that choice.
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        Jun 11 2011: We can agree that people like Dr. Martin Luther King, Mandela and Frankl have 'something' important. I cannot use the same word for it that you do but 'something'. I do not see freedom - I see tenaciousness, commitment to being the best person you can be, a resolve to never become like the abuser. So I agree that it is admirable and sustaining but cannot call it freedom because I realize that many with the same qualities just did not make it. We see and admire these things in the survivors because they survived. I equally admire it in those who did it 'unto death.' This far and no further they said and were willing to die for it if they had to.
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          Jun 12 2011: Debra


          "“The one thing you can’t take away from me is the way I choose to respond to what you do to me. The last of one’s freedoms is to choose ones attitude in any given circumstance.”
          -- Viktor Frankl

          We can agree that people like Dr. Martin Luther King, Mandela and Frankl have 'something' important. I cannot use the same word for it that you do but 'something'. I do not see freedom
          --Debra Smith

          Under extreme circumstances of no exernal freedoms, Frankel used that word for it to decsribe his own experience.freedom.
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        Jun 12 2011: To have life so degraded that all you can still choose is how to mentally respond is not, in my view FREEDOM just as a piece of lumber is not a tree. It is some small shred of dignity, self awareness and a final stand in the face of great inhumanity or a final rationalization perhaps but not true freedom.

        But what you have and I would never want to take from you is the pure and perfect right and full freedom to believe as you do regardless of what I believe.
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      Jun 8 2011: Thomas,

      Your reflections elegantly describe freedom. I agree. And am, thus, refining my definition in an attempt to weave yours in.

      Thank you,
      Andrea
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      Jun 8 2011: Thomas, Please read what is below as I have written it as honest inquiry.

      I have read every word of all the 'free' people here. I am having a hard time relating. I have never considered Mandela to have been free when he was not literally free. He took his circumstances and made the best of them, planning ahead, sharpening his logic and approaches. I do not think he ever said 'I feel so great and free today!' As for MLK- no one outlined and spoke more clearly to the lack of freedom and justice for his peole. Did you mean to type Victor Frankl? He did not enjoy his time in the concentration camps either. He simply made his life experiences mean something so that others would not find themselves in the same torture.

      How do you define freedom?
      Perhaps I am the person represented by the huge cheribs on the pillars in St. Peter's bascilica who have no irises in their eyes but I am having a hard time understanding how people who have not faced these things can suggest that they understand so much more about suffering and be so certain that they are embracing a transparent and awakened existence.
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        Jun 8 2011: Debra,

        Your inquiry speaks an universal doubt that is understandable. Even the most sincerely founded beliefs of people, expressed through the cultures and institutions they develop to orient them, have undermined freedom even as they've sought to enable it. Oftentimes, as you note, taking exceeding measures to repress it.

        Even so, I echo Thomas's thoughts.

        In this case through the voices of leaders you mention. They perhaps best speak for themselves:

        "I am fundamentally an optimist (...). There were many dark moments when my faith in humanity was sorely tested, but I would not and could not give myself up to despair. That way lays defeat and death."
        — Nelson Mandela

        "“The one thing you can’t take away from me is the way I choose to respond to what you do to me. The last of one’s freedoms is to choose ones attitude in any given circumstance.”
        -- Viktor Frankl

        "I've seen the promised land. I may not get there with you, but I want you to know tonight that we as a people will get to the promised land. So I'm happy tonight. I'm not worried about anything. I'm not fearing any man."
        -- Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., April 3, 1968, the day before he was assassinated

        And, to add a female voice. Since you mentioned the basilica, I decided to offer a Catholic who achieved the awakened existence you ask of:

        “…Certainly when I lie in jail thinking of these things, thinking of war and peace, and the problems of human freedom… and the apathy of great masses of people who believe that nothing can be done, I am all the more confirmed in my faith in the little way of St. Therese. We do the minute things that come to hand, we pray our prayers, and beg also for an increase of faith – and God will do the rest.”
        — Dorothy Day

        Andrea
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          Jun 8 2011: thnak you for thosewonderful quotes..they say ist person what I was trying to explain to Nicholas..seesm like you me & thomas are on the same page...

          But, Debra..does that help with your question at all? Each one of these people suffered greatly for using their inner freedom to speak and act for humanity ..to each of them the burden of just being silent or to what was happening would have been far more intolerable than the consequences they suffered.. Here in their own words they say that. Have you never witnessed an injustice that moves you so deeply that the pain of turning away would be unbearable compared to the consequences of speaking and acting to correct it it.

          Do you remember that iconic image of the young chinese man in front of the tank at tianemen squre. In the moment he had achieved perfect freedom..and the whole world recognized it..even if they couldn't name it. Whenver that image is shown and brings tears..those tears are inner freedom asking to to be abale to speak.
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          Jun 8 2011: Actually, Lindsay and Andrea, those were two outstanding answers. My point was primarily that such "freedom" cost these people substantially.
          Any suggestion that is was easy or simple diminishes the victory in it.

          To answer your question Lindsay, I have not just seen it. I've lived it.

          In those moments, it did not feel to me like freedom, it felt like decision. This far and no further. If not now when.
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        Jun 9 2011: Hi Debra,

        I will read it and give it some thought but it might be a few days. I'm off to Beijing for a while and don't have time to read everyone's input just now.

        In the meantime, a quick answer:

        Freedom is a choice.
        Freedom is acceptance.
        Freedom is within.


        Take care,
        Thomas
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        Jun 9 2011: Did you mean to type Victor Frankl?

        Yes.

        Fixed it. Thank you.
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        Jun 12 2011: Quote: "... I am having a hard time understanding how people who have not faced these things can suggest that they understand so much more about suffering and be so certain that they are embracing a transparent and awakened existence."

        I have a wise friend who once said (something like): "Do not read the scriptures; experience what the people who wrote the scriptures experienced."

        I think the point is it is hard to understand anything we have not experienced for ourselves. When this is the case, words can only point in "a general direction."

        Quote: "I have not just seen it. I've lived it. ... In those moments, it did not feel to me like freedom, it felt like decision."

        Perhaps we are talking about the same thing but you call it "decision" and I call it "freedom." Maybe we just expect it to feel differently than it actually does.
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      Jun 9 2011: "“The one thing you can’t take away from me is the way I choose to respond to what you do to me. The last of one’s freedoms is to choose ones attitude in any given circumstance.”
      -- Viktor Frankl
      great quote! but not easy.
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    Jun 8 2011: i dont know the definition of freedom but i know what dose it mean to be free
    for me ,it means chioces i can make.
    i have a freind who once told me there's no absolute freedom and i think it makes sense.
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    Jun 8 2011: I think freedom is you can feel the limitation but there's no stress around
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    Jun 8 2011: EDITED, due to inspiration inspired by Thomas.

    James,

    Freedom is the opportunity to live up to one's potential, while appreciating and engaging what life gives one.

    Andrea
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      Jun 9 2011: Would you agree though Andrea, that you are using a highly specialized or individualized meaning for freedom?

      free·dom/ˈfrēdəm/Noun
      1. The power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint.
      2. Absence of subjection to foreign domination or despotic government.
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        Jun 9 2011: Perhaps, Debra.

        As evidenced by your question. Which indicates my intended description might not be entirely clear.

        So, I'll attempt to compare my definition with the one you provide:

        First, a couple of quibbles:
        "Wants" is too easily co-opted as an excuse to take away others freedoms, as is "Power."
        "Hindrance" and "restraint" may be self-embraced in the quest for freedom, thus these don't comprehensively enough track.

        "Opportunity" is implied when subjection, domination or despotism is absent.
        "Potentials" are the myriad (yes, often individualized) universal human characteristics available in the presence of opportunity.
        "Living up to" one's potentials requires "engagement" of them.
        "Appreciating" sees life (including other humans) as "giving" equally as much as oppression-less "Opportunity" and engaging "Potentials" to one's ability to access Freedom does.

        I hope this makes sense, as I read it I am aware it is a bit abstract.

        Andrea
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          Jun 10 2011: I am pretty simple and straight forward. It was a simple dictionary definition.
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      Jun 8 2011: Wongmo, what a great challenge!

      I really hope that many people will pick up your challenge and share stories of personal freedom! I need to hear them and experience them vicariously so that I can learn how to embrace it.

      I am not sure I have ever been 'free' even though I live in a first world county. I have chained myself with expectations and allowed myself to be chained by the expectations of others. This only really became clear to me after my divorce. I found that like some people who have been imprisoned too long that I was afraid of the free and uncharted role before me. I longed to go back into the familiar old roles even though they represented denying a large portion of who I am and the abilites that I have. So, I must learn to embrace freedom and courageous examples will help me do that.
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          Jun 8 2011: To your question about the biggest favour- yes, I now know that he acted with a better wisdom than I recognized 3 years ago. In many ways the chains are and were chains I forged for myself

          Addition: It was still pretty cheesy that he left for girl younger than our kids!.

          ******So everybody- I need your stories of exhilarating freedom so that I can try it on for size!
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        Jun 8 2011: Edited

        ******So everybody- I need your stories of exhilarating freedom so that I can try it on for size!

        I have three that might be of interest.

        1) Breathing (I am not being flippant - appreciating breath is lovely.)
        2) Sitting quietly and asking myself if I wanted to be in a relationship, and, if so, what I could reasonably expect from one; asking what I could reasonably offer in a relationship; noticing the answers and then applying them.
        3) Riding a bicycle.

        The second one takes some telling but, essentially what I decided to do - after much contemplation - was be, in concrete terms, the kind of partner I would like my partner to be. The commitment was genuine. In that moment, I experienced everything I ever wanted from a relationship. The irony was I was sitting alone at the time. The fulfillment of relationship without the relationship ... maybe not what we'd call freedom but pretty cool.
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          Jun 8 2011: Wise words Thomas
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          Jun 8 2011: Thank you Thomas!

          I'm starting a list:

          1) get a motorcycle
          2) mindlful breathing
          3) get a bicycle (with a good seat).
          4) take a trip backpacking to experience much with little.
          5) Visit Wongmo
          6) ?
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          Jun 9 2011: It's amazing how many times bicycles have come up in the conversation. You do have a bicycle don't you Debra? If not I'd highly recommend moving that up your list (you can take rides while preparing for your trip).
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          Jun 9 2011: Hey Tim, haven't had one since my cancer surgery a few years ago but I'm all healed in the relevant regions so that is one great suggestion!
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          Jun 12 2011: Thomas were you by any chance at that monet of perfected relationship reading Chapter 6 of Robert Sadellos book "Silence"?
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        Jun 9 2011: Take a trip spending very little and with the lightest backpack possible. Hiking the alps and staying in the hutten would be my recommended trip. But maybe wongmo could offer a better alternative.

        Learning that you can experience much with little is very liberating.
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        Jun 13 2011: I enjoy these kinds of discussions and I am reading through many of the posts.

        And based on some of what you write, Debra, such as this quote - "I have chained myself with expectations and allowed myself to be chained by the expectations of others. .... I must learn to embrace freedom ..." - I suspect you "know" what I am talking about when I say "freedom is a choice."

        I am diverging from topic here a bit but I suspect, within what I might call your practice of freedom (what you call making decisions,) there is a feeling element missing for you that you equate with freedom.

        That is, you expect freedom to feel a particular way - "it did not feel to me like freedom, it felt like decision."

        This is speculation on my part and, as a comment, enters the realm of communication not freedom (hence my saying I might be a little off topic.)

        I agree with you, many of the circumstance within which we can practice freedom (or not) feel horrible. But, in my experience, such experiences do not diminish or enhance the freedom we do have.

        To use a (probably bad) analogy: We could be eating ice cream on the sinking Titanic or we could be eating ice cream on a hot summer day with our friends at the park. The ice cream would be fundamentally the same but our experience of it would be substantially different.
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          Jun 13 2011: Thomas, all I think it boils down to is a fundamental definition of the word. No normal dictionary or useage of the language uses it the way you do.

          freedom (ˈfriːdəm)

          — n
          1. personal liberty, as from slavery, bondage, serfdom, etc
          2. liberation or deliverance, as from confinement or bondage
          3. the quality or state of being free, esp to enjoy political and civil liberties
          4. ( usually foll by from ) the state of being without something unpleasant or bad; exemption or immunity: freedom from taxation
          5. the right or privilege of unrestricted use or access: the freedom of a city
          6. autonomy, self-government, or independence
          7. the power or liberty to order one's own actions
          8. philosophy the quality, esp of the will or the individual, of not being totally constrained; able to choose between alternative actions in identical circumstances
          9. ease or frankness of manner; candour: she talked with complete freedom
          10. excessive familiarity of manner; boldness
          11. ease and grace, as of movement; lack of effort

          I have at every decision point of my life chosen to do the responsible and the proper thing. Now I want to appropriate the freedom to live life fully and kindly while getting as much fun as possible while doing as much good as possible.I have no regrets for I have lived according to my values with integirity. My values have moved toward joyful experiences because I have realized that life is shorter than we think.
  • Jun 8 2011: Its a feeling to bring our thoughts into action without any fear or restrictions.
    The fear can be internal or from our inside while restrictions can be anything which our surrounding environment imposes on us.
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    Jun 7 2011: freedom is when you can do everything you want, without limitations or rules.
    but even without all the laws imposed by communities, you can't be free, because of physical laws and other unbreakable rules.
    you can't wake up a morning and said "today, i'll be a dolphin and i'll fly into the sky faster than the light"

    so, freedom is more a feeling than a status.
    you feel free when you can do all that you want ... but respecting the unbreakable rules and the communities laws.
    that's why europeans, americans or chinese all feel free, even if their laws are different. because we are conditioned to think respecting the laws.

    this is what i think about freedom (just like security by the way) : you can feel free but you can't totally be free.
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      Jun 8 2011: Hey Nicolas,

      Your definition of freedom, "freedom is when you can do everything you want, without limitations or rules" is a common one. And within certain contexts, it makes sense.

      "Freedom" is one of those words, like "love" that has so many meanings, it is essentially meaningless.

      Being able to do what one wants might also be called "liberty" or "civil liberty" - and, in my mind anyway, in that context it refers to our freedom to act "in the world." Naturally, our liberties can be constrained.

      There are other definitions of freedom too. One of them refers to an internal state - a freedom that is not constrained by external circumstance.

      That is the freedom that interests me most.
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        Jun 8 2011: Thanks for replying Thomas,

        In France, we have only one word for freedom and liberty, so, it's quite difficult for me to make the difference between theirs.

        There is another point i just remember : the importance of education and culture to be free.
        It's true that education make you thinking following rules, but it's also the best way to be open-minded and be free of thinking.
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    Jun 7 2011: I think it is the ability to be and express exactly who you are.
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    Jun 7 2011: Hmmmmm .... actually, I think what I wrote was:

    Freedom is not being able to do what ever you want
    Freedom is being able to not do what ever you want

    ------------------

    It was almost 40 years ago and the memory is not what it once was.
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    Jun 7 2011: A long, long time ago, I was at a friends house and they had a pad stuck to their fridge with an invitation for visitors to write something on it. Without thinking too much, I wrote:

    Being free is not being able to do what ever you want
    Being free is being able to not do what ever you want

    --------------------------

    True freedom cannot be bestowed, bequeathed, taken away or even threatened. Protecting "freedom" is a perversion of the term - look around.
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      Jun 13 2011: After reflecting Thomas, on your definition of freedom, I am thinking it represents a larger societal trend that is required for people who will work their whole lives for meager wages in cubicles that are 4 X4. Unless people voluntarily agree to define freedom in the way you do, society could not continue on the path it is currently on with more and more power and more and more wealth controlled by fewer and fewer. This is the mindset of a caged bird and the cage owner bids the bird 'sing sweetly' and earn your keep.
      I am sorry, birds are meant to fly and the songs that they sing in cages are not as sweet.
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        Jun 13 2011: Caged birds are not free. For once I agree with you Debra. Freedom can be taken away like a caged bird. Given the choice a bird would not be in a cage. And a caged bird cannot simply choose to be free as alleged.
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          Jun 13 2011: Hi Richard ,that raises a interesting question, i think -who decide one is free or not . the bird in the cage or the bird that are flying in the sky?
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          Jun 13 2011: Amily,

          One could argue that each bird defines freedom for itself unless you educate yourself on the way that the brilliant and amazing human minds are able to adapt for survival. There are even people who become so used to being prisoners that they are afraid to be released into society again.

          I would, in every instance, choose a bigger definition for FREEDOM than a mere coping mechanism.
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        Jun 13 2011: Hi Debra,

        That is quite a leap. It's not one I would make.

        I am hearing two major trends throughout this thread: Internal freedom and external freedom.

        My focus has always been directed more to inner freedom. I support external freedoms but I have lived many places where external freedoms have been curtailed - Kenya, China, Canada, England, The United States, and so on. I found adapting to external constraints quite simple - automatic really.

        Inner tyranny, on the other hand, is somewhat more problematic. As Buckaroo Banzai said, "Remember, wherever you go, there you are."

        PS Did you get my reply to your comment about the Silvanus quote? I submitted it but have never seen it.
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          Jun 13 2011: No, I didn't Thomas. That does happen sometimes, though so you may have to resubmit it.
          To address your point though- my response is that true internal freedom is inexticably linked to outer freedom. That is what human rights are all about. The metaphor I used in another post here applies- a tooth pick is made from a tree but when that's all that's left you cannot call a toothpick a tree.
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      Jun 13 2011: I think that Thomas' initial comments and the responses in this thread make an important point. There are two aspects of freedom - external and internal.

      Externalities can influence our ability to feel free. But if we don't internally feel free are we really free?
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        Jun 13 2011: Good question Tim,

        And I mirror it back to you: If we have to do some mighty machinations to redefine freedom in light of all our our external freedom being forcibly removed- is that freedom?

        And my sincerest question: Why on earth would we cooperate with that on ANY level?
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          Jun 13 2011: Debra: I agree that both aspects are important (don't mean to stress one or the other).

          My biggest issue is the promotion of the symbols of freedom without considering the individual sense of freedom. Example - bringing democracy to Iraq.
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    Jun 7 2011: I'm not sure about what it is... something to do with responsability and self-managment. But for sure freedom is not what we're living... It isn't democracy, it isn't the internet, it isn't what the war's about, inspite they pretend it is...
  • Jun 7 2011: Freedom is love. Then what is love? Well, its freedom.

    Its a space that can be explored without religion, without culture or nationality, without thought and without self.

    As an example: You happen to see a wonderful sunset, and it's so intensely beautiful that you suddenly become completely thoughtless, enveloped by the sheer force of love. In that moment, when you observe without being the observer, you become the observed.

    Jiddu Krishnamurti thought a lot about important questions like this back in the day. Below I have copied some links related to JK, as a starting point for anyone who might find the ideas and thoughts presented by him interesting, insightful or at the very least, entertaining. And yes, it is very much related to the topic at hand.

    General information about JK on wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jiddu_Krishnamurti

    JK on Love and Freedom(don't let youtube scare you): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WMubK0y18Lo

    JK recieving the Peace Award from the UN: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7fzV8QH1JeE
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      Jun 11 2011: Hi..nice to meet you..Here is a lovely quote by Krishnamurti on Freedom

      "The greatness of freedom, real freedom, the dignity, the beauty of it, is in oneself when there is complete order. And that order comes only when we are a light to ourselves.


      By complete order, in the context of the teaching from which this quote was extracted, he means free of resentment,anger,bitterness, judgment etc.
      • Jun 13 2011: Hi Lindsay, nice to meet you too =) I've drawn a lot of inspiration and wisdom from JK.
  • Jun 7 2011: Freedom. It is hard to think of freedom when we are faced by the constraints of modern society and ensuing rules, yet without these rules, we would be opressed by those not acting in accordance to our perceptions of what life should be. We have the freedom of thought and choice but not necessarily the freedom of action. Freedom is acceptable as long as it does not harm anyone or go against the general laws of nature and is globally/environmentally responsible. In the days when we were hunters and gatherers, we had greater freedom. If we chose not to live according to the groups social rules, we had the choice to go and live by ourselves and be free to do what we wish. As long as we have to live in modern society and an increasing global world, we are encumbered by its dictates. Freedom might be attributed to happiness, having the essential comforts of life, freedom of non-hateful, truthful, rational, and logical expression, and general freedom of movement.

    Freedom is hard to nail down as it covers so many aspect of life. Just my thoughts.
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    Jun 7 2011: speaking and/or acting without hindrance or interference
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      Jun 7 2011: What if, what you are speaking and acting upon was brainwashed into your consciousness?

      You as the actor or speaker would not be aware of the hindrance or interference of knowledge/action without another person(s) to compare yourself too whom was not brainwashed. So, although you are brainwashed, to yourself you are free, but to the opinions of others whom had more grounds for free lance knowledge, you are brainwashed.

      Now, is the freedom of the brainwashed individual more OR less emotionally satisfying than the person with more grounds for a freelance education?
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        Jun 8 2011: ..brainwashing would be a pretty najpr hindrance don't you think?....
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          Jun 8 2011: Lindsay,

          Brainwashing - "any method of controlled systematic indoctrination, especially one based on repetition or confusion: brainwashing by TV commercials."

          I use this definition because I kept my statement pretty open. I didn't dictate the information in which was being conflicted nor how the person was brainwashed.

          Example from definition: Person A says "Marijuana is more dangerous than cigarettes"
          Person B says the opposite.

          Now, A is brainwashed into believing marijuana is more dangerous than cigarettes but in a larger consensus of experts in medicines, this proves to be a false opinion. B knows the truth and realizes marijuana is the least harmful narcotic to ingest. Both A and B go to a party, A is happy not smoking something he knows to be dangerous and B is happy, well he is happy.

          A is deluded into a false actuality where marijuana is a dangerous drug, he does not have the freedom to make the decision to try marijuana because he already convinced himself that this drug is no good.

          Life is one big illusion, Lindsay. It does not have to be marijuana you or I are brainwashed over, it could be that "money or sex is all that matters" or "having a good time while you are young, is all that matters" These are illusions created by exterior experiences that create positive emotions. Happiness often leads people to delusions. Look at theistic religions.

          I haven't answered this question yet, but here goes.

          Freedom is having the knowledge of how not free you really are...

          My question still stands to anyone, but edited! "Now, is the freedom of the brainwashed individual more OR less emotionally satisfying than the person with the better formed opinions from open educations?"
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        Jun 8 2011: Nicholas,

        Freedom is indwelling..it transcends what is acknowledged by law or even what is tolerated in culture...in fact personal freedom can neither be granted or taken away..it is inherent..it's up to us over the course of our lives to first realize ( become awake to that) and then to perfect it and protect it against hindrances and encumberances..like public opinion, cultural norms, even penalty of law.

        Nelso Mandela a perfect example of what I mean..deeply connected with his own personal freedom, he witnessed what was wrong in law and culture and tradition and freely chose to act and speak on that without encimbrance or hindrance..ie his knowing and believing was not modified or deterred by even the penalty of law..his imprisonment might even be considered an apotheosis of his personal freedom...it's pefection.

        So Nicholas, brainwashing is no excuse..I believe we have the inherent ability and responsibility to transcend that.and to not be vulberable to it in the first place.
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          Jun 8 2011: Nothing is inherent Lindsay.

          Every action needs a reaction in order to change.
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        Jun 8 2011: all that we need to live and grow and thrive is inherent..not given or learned. ..that includes this indwelling personal freedom and our awareness of it., our awareness of how culture, tradition, teaching and evn law push and pull against it..true most give up and just allow themselves..their own personal potential and possibility to be suppressed by all these extrenalities and perhaps never actually encounter their personal freedom . But it never goes away. It is always recovereable. It can always be nurtured from wherever we first find it there and start to care for it...to cultivate it.
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          Jun 8 2011: Indeed our natural instincts help us guide through life, but those instincts can be manipulated through brainwashed educations.

          Everything you feel is the result of these instincts is definitely so, but the development is done through educations. The action is the first step the response (what the action led to, how did it work out, what emotions were stirred) is the reaction (education), the second step.

          A great educator practices "trial and error" values as does a great student. Aristotle is still recognized today for a lot of reasons, but my biggest opinion is he is the first heavily recorded critical thinker in history. In fact so much, that his students faithfully cited Aristotle as being the originator of their thoughts and writings.

          So you are right, but through the same natural instincts practices of controlling others can be made and done so ignorantly. Therefore education is really a big part of understanding freedoms.
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    Jun 7 2011: Freedom in itself can be defined as doing or thinking (or not) anything you want. You can even ultimately be doing something you don't want because you are not aware of the consequences as Nick noted. I agree with Steve's idea that freedom is not absolute otherwise we infringe on the freedom and rights of others (Julie, Steve) making us irresponsible (Chris S.).

    Maybe we can define freedom as our ability and our state to do what is true and what is just freely. But of course we have to define what is true and just in a common interest and language as Michel noted so that when we say "freedom" it does not sound void as Chris S. noted.

    Maybe our next question is how do we exercise our freedom to be just and operate in the arena of truth in helping our world to transform into an equitable, earth-sustainable world?
    • Jun 7 2011: I think you have a really good point.
      I, anyway, would like to say that freedom must be understood as something absolute. When you say that freedom infringes other people`s rights, it doesn´t limitate your freedom to do something, it just conditionates it. Ultimately, I think that in order to evolve up to a better world, we shouldn´t limitate our acts (when they affect others) based upon a moral restriction, we should do it based on pure and honest love for the others... Love, as such, we´ll give us the power to choose. The thing would be: "I know I´m free to make things that would harm you, but I choose not to, because I love you (as a brother human)"... that way, my freedom doesn´t affect others because I choose so, not because their freedom (whatever it is) limitates mine.
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        Jun 7 2011: I agree Maximiliano, our freedom to do what is right has no limit as long as it does not infringe on other people's freedom and rights. We see now in our world inequalities and injustices (almost half of the earth citizens live on less than USD3.00 a day, our planet and our people may further suffer if climate change worsens because it seems that we are not contributing enough our hearts and minds to solve this problem in a global scale.
        • Jun 7 2011: "our freedom to do what is right has no limit"
          What an inspirational sentence. A book could be written around it.
          I agree with you, there´s still much to do to make all of our contributions become global.
  • Jun 7 2011: Interesting!
    I agree that is easier to say what freedom is not. I remember a teacher I once had who asked us to give the opposite of violence. We all came with terms like peace (war), tenderness (cruelty) softness (roughness), etc. He concluded telling us that the only way he could define it, was "non-violence", because we´re not taught to think of the opposition of violence, we just know it exist when violence is not there.
    With this, I mean that societies instructs people to think upon restrictions or limitations. So, freedom is not other than the absence of such restrictions. We´re not taught to think of it, to feel it, or to embrace it.
    In this line of thought, I can´t find a way to define freedom because, by itself, define is to put boundaries and limitations to the meaning. I would restrict freedom´s reach by enclosing it within the limits of our human language.
    At this point, I have just restricted my own capability of talking about freedom, so I guess I have no answers.
    So I´ll just keep on reading yours...
  • Jun 7 2011: i think freedom is something that allows us to think on our own will, in which we can think what we want, in which we have full power to talk truth
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    Jun 7 2011: Assuming you're asking about personal freedom, I think of it primarily as a feeling.

    An example might prove useful. Think of your last day of work before a long vacation. You leave the building, the sun is shining, you put away all your cares and feel the whole world full of possibility. That is freedom.

    Like happiness, it seems difficult to maintain at peak level. But it's nice when we can get periodically recharged with the feeling.
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      Jun 7 2011: what other freedoms exist?
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      Jun 9 2011: Tim, hi there.
      As ever, a thought provoking response from you, and different to my map of the World, so interesting.
      So I need to mull this idea of "Freedom as a feeling..."
      I suppose, that sense of Freedom is freedom from obligation, work, responsibility. So it is freedom from responsibility.
      Which is interesting, because I think I responded to Chris Schielder that Freedom IS Responsibility. So I have to think now... Is Freedom "from" Responsibility, or is Freedom itself the same as responsibility?
      I have thought Freedom = Responsibility.
      Eg: Do I have the Freedom to fly to the US?
      - Have I taken responsibility to earn the money to pay for the ticket?
      - Have I taken responsibility to fill out the ESTA form?
      - Have I acted responsibly in my life, so the US immigration folks think I am worthy to visit this excellent country?
      - Have I made my own way to the airport
      Maybe I revisit the "day in the life" lens as a way of thinking of what is.
      I guess through the day, be thinking about Freedom, eg: about from the moment you get up, how do encounter "Freedom To...", "Freedom From..." and /or this "feeling of freedom"??
  • Jun 7 2011: Freedom is what you define it to be.
    For me personally, freedom is choice. The choice to make a calculated decision based on a sufficient amount of data.