You Only Free if Others Are Too!

(Part 4 of 5)

Freedom extends beyond making individual choices and achieving independence. It is a fundamental idea that unites us all and profoundly influences our existence. We explore why, what and how our freedom is connected to the freedom of others. Understanding this interdependency is vital, as it helps shape a more inclusive and empowered future and society.

Freedom allows us to express ourselves, pursue our passions, and live with purpose and responsibility. However, It is important to acknowledge that true freedom cannot be achieved by being alone and disconnected from others. Here’s why:

  • Fairness and Equality: When some people don’t have the same freedoms as others, it’s not fair. True freedom means everyone has an equal chance to live their lives without discrimination. For example, imagine if only certain students were allowed to attend school based on their background. It would be unfair and limit everyone’s freedom to learn and grow.
  • Sharing Opportunities: We share healthcare, jobs, and societal resources. When some people are left out or don’t have access to these opportunities, it limits their freedom. Imagine if access to adequate healthcare during Covid was limited to only a select few, it would have negatively impacted the health and well-being of the entire population, as the disease has the potential to spread rapidly.
  • Accepting Differences: We enhance our freedom by accepting diversity and respecting each other’s differences. When we limit the freedom of others based on things like race, gender, or beliefs, it diminishes the diversity of our society. We create a freer and more inclusive world by celebrating and valuing our differences. Consider a classroom where students can express their opinions openly and without fear of judgment. When everyone’s ideas are respected, it creates an environment where freedom thrives for all.

Collective freedom is a connection between our freedom and the freedom of others. It’s about realising that we all deserve to be free, and by supporting each other’s freedom, we strengthen our freedom. Here’s what collective freedom is all about:

  • Seeing the Big Picture: Collective freedom is understanding that our actions and choices can impact others. It’s about thinking beyond ourselves and considering how our behaviour can either support or limit the freedom of others.
  • Standing Together: Collective freedom means standing up for the rights of others and supporting causes that promote liberty for all. It’s about being allies and supporting those facing discrimination or oppression. Together, we can make a more significant impact and create positive change.
  • Creating a Fairer World: Collective freedom involves achieving a fairer world with equal opportunities and rights. It means challenging unfair systems and fighting against discrimination. By striving for justice, we contribute to collective freedom.

We all have the power to develop collective freedom and make a difference. Here are some simple ways we can contribute:

  • Empathy and Understanding: Take the time to listen to others and understand their experiences. Put yourself in their shoes and try to see things from their perspective. By being empathetic and understanding, we build connections and create a more inclusive and compassionate world. Cornel West once said, “Empathy is not simply a matter of trying to imagine what others are going through but having the will to muster enough courage to do something about it.” Volunteering at a local shelter or engaging in community service activities exposes us to different life experiences. It allows us to empathise with those facing challenges and motivates us to take action to create a more inclusive society.
  • Speaking Up: Don’t stay silent if you see injustice or unfairness. Use your voice to speak out against discrimination and advocate for the rights of others, and make a difference at school, online, or in your community. Joining forces with classmates to combat bullying in school demonstrates the power of working together and speaking with one voice. Standing up against injustice and supporting those targeted, empowers everyone to feel safe and free to be themselves.
  • Supporting Each Other: Support causes that promote equality and freedom for all. Get involved in community projects or organisations that work towards social justice. We can create a more inclusive and free society by working together and supporting each other. Imagine a community project where one community member dominates the decision-making process, disregarding the input and ideas of others. In this scenario, the freedom of other community members to contribute and be heard is diminished, demonstrating the falseness of individual freedom.

True freedom goes beyond individual boundaries and grows when all individuals can exercise their rights and live without fear of oppression. We can only be truly free when others are too. Recognising our interdependence empowers a society where freedom knows no bounds and allows everyone to live their lives to the fullest. We can encourage collective freedom by fighting for fairness, embracing diversity, and standing up for what’s right.

However, education is vital in shaping a future that values collective freedom. It enables us to gain knowledge, challenge biases, and learn about diverse perspectives. It equips us with the toolset to dismantle prejudice and create a more equitable society. As Nelson Mandela famously said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

Let’s be advocates for collective freedom, breaking the chains that hold us back, and building a brighter and more inclusive world for ourselves and future generations. As Nelson Mandela wisely said, “To be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”

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