Our culture is based on the exclusion of idealism: we’ve convinced ourselves that the greatest ideal is not to have any, and by doing so we are in danger of privatising our freedom and turning it into personal conquest.
Freedom is not an end in itself, but a means to an end. Freedom grants us the possibility to make real choices. Considering that most of us enjoy this state of liberty, surely we are also responsible for using it to achieve something. As Salvatore Lo Bue, director of a rehabilitation programme in Sicily, puts it: ‘Liberty can’t be liberty from needs or liberty to do whatever one wants. It’s only when one has a life project, when one has made choices that settle with clarity the end you have in mind, that you’re truly free.’ If we use our freedom as licence or indulgence, we become isolated and selfish, seeing everyone else as a potential threat to our own freedom.
Freedom, in its universal sense, does not mean to live out according to our own agenda, or to liberate ourselves from one another, but rather to rediscover a solidarity in which it is greater to be a servant than a master.
Let’s take a closer look at what we can do to regain purpose for our freedom in our daily lives.
1. BE SELECTIVE
BY CHOOSING QUALITY OVER QUANTITY
BEING AWARE OF THE INFLUENCE OF WHAT WE READ, HEAR AND SEE
In the same way that we take care of our body and are selective about what we eat, we should also be considerate about what we put in our heads. Don’t read it or watch it because it’s there. Our mind is a sacred space: feed it only the best.
2. BE DECISIVE
DON’T BE AFRAID TO MAKE MISTAKES
KNOW WHERE YOU BELONG
Decisions are sometimes risky because you have to come down on one side of the fence, but then if we don’t make that decision, we won’t belong anywhere. Keeping options open means never having to make a choice, and always having a choice means never having to make one.
3. BE CONFIDENT
EMPOWERED BY OUR BELIEFS
USING CREATIVITY TO IMPROVE THINGS AROUND US
FOLLOWING UP WHAT WE SAY WITH ACTIONS
Taking part in conversation is a right we should all be exercising because our ideas are important. By expressing them, we don’t know who will be influenced, what could happen as a result, and where life could go!
4. BE MATURE
SETTING OUR BOUNDARIES
SELF-RESPECT AND SELF-GOVERNANCE
INTERDEPENDENCE AND ACCOUNTABILITY
Duties and obligations needn’t contradict our freedom. We should all be mindful of the fact that we have rights because others have recognised their responsibilities. And, in turn, we should take our responsibilities seriously. Reciprocity builds community, and gives more people a fair chance.
5. BE INVOLVED
LIVING BY VALUES AND IDEALS
MOBILISING TO BRING ABOUT CHANGE
TAKING HOLD OF THE FUTURE
Most of us are good at spotting opportunities for change. However, it is often easier to believe that our actions won’t make a difference. Giving of yourself is one of the most liberating things you can do – even the smallest contribution can help you feel the world is a better place.