I am free, no matter what rules surround me. If I find them tolerable, I tolerate them; if I find them too obnoxious, I break them. I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do.
—Robert Heinlein, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, 1966
How do you define freedom?
It’s a word that’s thrown around and owned by groups of every political persuasion and we as a people like to sing out the claim that we are the land of the free. But what is it?
Is it simply the freedom to speak our opinions or move freely? Or is it a freedom to live in a manner that we choose?
It’s a hard and multi-faceted question. Probably more than I should be biting off here since, to start with, I don’t know that I can even define the reality of the word. I mean, is it even a real thing or merely an accepted illusion, something that sounds pretty good in theory but never really becomes real?
At the end of the day, I do think that any definition we give is based on our own personal preferences, our own need to rationalize our life choices and still feel pretty good after all is said and done. We choose our freedom.
There’s a lot more to be said about this subject. In fact, I’ve written many more paragraphs that won’t show up here today just because I couldn’t decide which direction to take my thoughts. But I wanted to at least broach the subject to talk about it in the context of the new painting at the top of this page, a 12″ by 12″ canvas that I call Hard Freedom.
In this piece, I see freedom as a hard choice, one that requires a willingness to step away from group thought and definition. It is built on hard decisions to reject anything that wants to impinge on the sovereignty of your freedom. As a result, it can be an isolating thing, one that requires constant vigilance to insure the protection of that freedom. In this freedom, the price that is paid is in being ultimately responsible for every decision made.
Real freedom has very few safety nets and can be a scary thing. I am sure a lot of you seeing this island might think of it not as a place of freedom but more like a prison.
And that’s okay. My freedom is most likely not the same as your freedom.
As I said, this subject has a lot of places to take us and maybe in the days ahead we can search these places. For this morning, I will leave you with these scrambled half-thoughts along with the painting at the top and the words of Robert Heinlein.
And a question: What does your freedom look like?