With many students protesting in violent ways, and social media status updates of people hating other races and cultures without shame, I believe the world has a misconception of what freedom is. I believe freedom only exists when we accept the differences between us and live with compassion. Freedom doesn’t allow you to say whatever you think, or to do whatever you feel like doing. Freedom doesn’t mean that when you disagree with something, you can set things on fire, or hurt a fellow human being. And if you argue that all this is needed to be free, and to live out your right of freedom of speech, I’m going to disagree with you – without setting something on fire.
If everyone continues to do as they please, chaos will soon become the norm of the day. Take traffic rules and regulations as an example. They have been implemented for a reason. Can you imagine how things would be if we had no traffic rules? We need these guidelines to know when to go, or when to stop so that everyone can safely reach their destinations. And yes, I know there are a few people – or more than a few – that don’t follow these rules already, but they are actually in the minority. And if everyone did as they please, just because they can, there would be no respect and compassion between people. This lack of respect will feed hatred, which then will lead to destruction. And the destruction will then put our freedom in danger. So, how do we expect freedom to exist without respect? This also brings me to the question: Is it possible to be free while following the rules? I believe it is.
We all have a free will and can make our own decisions. We choose whether or not we are going to follow the rules. So, despite following the rules, you are still free in your own way, because you chose that path. And I believe rules are necessary and provide us with guidelines, which are needed to co-exist and to live in harmony with people that are different from you. Douglas Bader said: “Rules are for the obedience of fools and the guidance of wise men,” but don’t get me wrong; we still need to question the motives of certain rules and break them if necessary. We can’t blindly accept every rule, but we also can’t go against every rule by hurting other people and vandalising other people’s property.
It all comes down to balance. It is your outlook on rules and the balance you have to maintain between following or breaking them, which can cage your own freedom. Not other people. You are selfish if you believe you have the right to demand anything because you decided you are entitled to it. Be careful to confuse freedom with anarchy. You can’t protest and fight for your own freedom, while trying to take someone else’s freedom because then you have – without a doubt – no idea what freedom really means.