Writing Prompts: What Does Freedom Mean to You?

What does freedom mean to you?

Freedom is a funny concept, and it is seen in different ways through different eyes. To some, freedom of speech, without any caveats or restraints, is paramount. That right to express any thought, any idea, no matter what, is considered to be the singular most important value.

To others, the right to bear arms is by far and away the most key element of freedom. ‘What good is freedom if it is at the whim of someone who could take it away?’

Is freedom the ability to go and vote in free and fair elections? Is it as simple as the means to use your democratic right to vote for a party that broadly shares your beliefs?

These are all concepts and ideas that could mean freedom to some, but what about me? How does this meerkat define freedom? When I declare myself to be free, what does that mean?

One of my six tattoos

Firstly, the freedom to have control over my own body is pretty-damn important. There are those who would regulate away the right to self-determination in various forms, and I am grateful to have been born male, because I do not face the ceaseless efforts women face over the right to bodily autonomy. In the UK, I can do things like get a tattoo (shunned in some parts of the world, illegal in others) without prejudice (well, some people might not like it, but it’s my body, my business!). I have the freedom to express myself (indeed, I am doing so right now with this post!), and despite what certain misleading paranoid hard-rightwingers may claim, there is no erosion of that right in play. I mean, if there were, any criticism of the government would be banned or blocked, and I am highly critical of our current incompetent Tory government!

Lines do need to be drawn with some things. The freedom of speech is important, does it mean the freedom to be cruel, dishonest, and incendiary? Incitements to violence can carry serious, even deadly consequences, and let’s be real: a lot of the aggressive, trolling stuff people say online would earn a talking to – or possibly even a trip to a prison cell – if carried out in public. Freedom of speech? Absolutely. Freedom from the consequences? No.

I believe that people should be able to live their lives without religious interference. In many parts of the world, even parts of the world that hold themselves as enlightened and developed, organised religious efforts still seek to hinder the rights of the LGBT community, and of women. Sometimes they endorse racial discrimination as well. There’s no reason why, in the 21st Century, someone should face a loss of freedom due to skin colour, sexual orientation, or gender. Alas, under the guise of religious freedom, some people campaign for such draconian ideals.

Beyond that, I am easy-going. Don’t interfere in my life and I won’t interfere in yours.

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