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The Responsibility of Freedom

June 23, 2011

The notions of freedom and responsibility are inseparable. Whether one considers freedom as it relates to politics, society, family, belief, or existential existence, freedom and freewill require the infusion of responsible thought and action as a means of maintenance. One could say that responsibility is the lubrication that keeps freedom moving strong, as without it, freedom would seize and cease to exist in its most pure form.

The responsibility of freedom is circular in form, with the first and final aspect being that of unfettered self-realization, introspection, and acceptance of one’s self as the individual who is ultimately responsible for one’s own life. The operative portion of the word ‘freewill’ is the word ‘will’, as one must have the will to embark on responsible thought and action. Freedom requires a commitment to self-awareness, as without it, one will not know who, or what, is controlling one’s thoughts.

The next step after self-awareness is to learn about and understand the forces that affect us. These forces can be religious, political, educational, family, health, career, and any number of aspects of life that have a direct impact on us. With regard to freedom, ignorance is not bliss, but rather ignorance gives way to control by outside forces. In the case of belief, such as in religion, one may wish to give their will and control over to an omnipotent being, perhaps in hopes of receiving guidance toward a more righteous end. Here too, one still has a certain level of responsibility. Human beings have been created with the characteristic of freewill, and we use that characteristic daily, whether to act in service to others, read and learn about that which we will chose to believe, or to turn a blind eye to injustice and evil, effectually choosing to allow it to happen. For those who are religious, consider that perhaps the gift of freewill is not to give it up, but to use it to consciously choose to return the creators love, and to act in service to his creations – each requiring the constant exercise of freewill and decisive action regardless of from where one choses to receive guidance. Without responsibility in belief, one becomes rigid in acceptance of dogmatic adherence, which effectually is to relinquish individual control, which leads to fundamentalism.

This same rigid conformity to any belief, institution, or organization can manifest itself in to the same dangerous level of fundamentalism. While it is easier to declare oneself a member of one specific political party, for example, it is against the principles of freedom of responsibility to remain ignorant of, or turn a blind eye to, the contradictory actions of those in that political party with respect to one’s own sensibilities. Acceptance of “the lessor of two evils” without taking a stand against the atrocities committed by those in the party with whom you have chosen to align yourself, is irresponsible. Once again, ignorance, apathy, and passivity toward those controlling factions to whom you accept as being a part of you, is to allow that faction to control you.

Contribution to society as a tenant of freedom can vary, with the least being what has already been written about in this article, to the responsible degree of one’s impact on others and the planet on which we live. At the least, one should not have a negative impact on others, such is the case of career welfare recipients. Children and students will naturally need family/society’s support, but that support is provided as an investment in the future. Some people will be able to contribute in ways greater than others, having an impact more substantial than others. Here again, the exercise of responsibility is to think through whether that impact is positive, or will be damaging to others. Just because someone choses to remain ignorant of their negative impact on others, makes the impact no less negative, nor does it excuse the action as any less irresponsible.

In terms of education of our children, an educational program administered by a government or private organization is susceptible to fluctuations, stagnations, or fundamentalist ideologies that may contradict the essence of the responsibilities of the free. In America, a school may become more wrapped up in providing students with positive self-image than with providing materials and motivation toward the achievement of knowledge. The responsibility of a child’s education cannot be passed off to others – it is incumbent upon a parent to assure that a child’s mind is being formed to accept their responsibilities toward freedoms when the time comes for them to take control of their own lives and their own freedom.

There are numerous avenues from which one can gain knowledge. Often the most difficult avenue to follow is the one that contradicts your current set of beliefs and opinions. However, it is contradictory sets of information which lends the most toward reformed thinking to align oneself with the fluidity of freedom. Not all information will be factual, some will be falsehoods or purposely biased, and can be ignored. However, just because new information makes you uneasy when contemplating it, does not mean that it is automatically false. The search for truth and knowledge is not always easy, but being difficult is no excuse to shun our responsibilities. To find the greatest contrast in information, one must venture beyond a small number of avenues for information. The smaller the number of sources of information, the more likely one is receiving biased information. The virtues of freedom will quite often take a person off of the beaten pathways. One must maintain the will to engage in responsible thought, self-awareness, and action – that is the essence of the responsibility of being free and the circular pattern of thought, consideration, and action incumbent upon freedom.

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