Every minute we decided to remain either locked up or to choose to break some of our chains. An “unusual” young adult reflects on modern concepts of freedom practiced by “free” and “open-minded” people / countries and its consequences to the modern world. Abuse of drugs, numbness, experimental sex, pornography, familiar disregard above others activities are discussed revealing contrast with the actual common sense of Freedom. Freedom is the most difficult and appreciated of all human gifts, but are we really free in our freedom?

I don’t drink alcohol; don’t smoke cigarettes or do drugs of any kind. I view/practice sex as a special demonstration of love rather than a just practice of satisfaction; never betrayed anyone and don’t watch any sort of pornography. I look for a way to do what is best not just for me, but for those around me and I still do what pleases me. For you and your world, maybe I don’t have a full and happy life. In this world, I’m the opposite of what it is called a “free man”. However, are you really free in your freedom?

During my teenage years I was concerned with some concepts of freedom that had caused me to have a deep feeling of inadequacy and often rejection. I was constantly accused of being too religious for having moral principles, too narrow-minded for avoiding anything that risked my health, too sexist for giving women proper respect, too gay for being a different man. I was never invited to a party because I was not free enough to fit in. My friends couldn’t imagine having fun on a Friday night without drinking alcohol, couldn’t enjoy the moment without lighting up a cigarette, or weren’t recognized as brave mates if drugs were not taken. Being rebellious towards school and family was also a sign of liberation. Also, sex was sort of a transitioning ritual to make a statement of maturity.

As I grew older, especially during my college years, these rituals and demonstrations of freedom expanded to our daily life. Being in a party without holding some alcoholic drink was unimaginable, three months without sex, unbearable. The pace of our happiness was ruled by the amount of consumption and “forbidden” experiences we had accumulated. People changed their mood proportionally to what they ingested in order to completely free their minds and show their true colors. I was never seen as a free man for not believing this was the concept of freedom where generations before us fought for. Taking risks allows humans to expand horizons and gain knowledge about themselves; uncalculated risks that drives dependence and change in behavior might take some of this freedom away.

Due to my alcohol abstinence, having fun was always a personal decision stimulated by my own will. I’m still free to drink whenever I feel like it. However, could you stop drinking without changing something in your party mood? Or your desire to go to aclub? Are you sure you could enjoy a moment without blurring its true meaning? I can smoke whenever I want, but could you give up smoking whenever you want without feeling severe consequences in your behavior? I can fall in love after some conversations and start a respectful and passionate relationship. Could you ever start a relationship or even love someone without tasting their bodies? Could you have sex without having in the back of your mind thousand of other women you saw in action during your porno sessions? Whenever I’m down, stressed, depressed, I talk to people, practice sports and remain sober to deeply participate in my life and be in control of my actions. Could you pass through hard times merely using the strength within you? Could you raise your level of excitement just because you decided to do so, without taking stimulators?

Every second we observe people with no boundaries in their free agency (freedom to choose) calling themselves “free” or “open-minded” humans. They express it by their choices of clothing – colors, cuts, show-offs, elasticity, transparency; how they fix their hair; speaking – use of heavy words to intensify speech. They express their desires using porno as an entertainment to adulthood such as Disney movies are to children and sex as a reproduction of these images. Ingesting/injecting/inhaling different substances are the additional stimulants of an already perfect moment. These “open-minders” believe these actions will lead them to develop habits of freedom, and as free men they will be closer to the happiness, to the fullness of their existence.

Misconceptions of freedom are also present in other areas. Western countries believe that freedom is a universal value, one that is wanted by all people in all times. How to explain periods of tyranny, dictatorship and oppression in the world’s history? Simply by stating this, some nations and individuals choose security over incredible responsibilities of freedom. Each country, social layers and individuals may define individual freedom in different terms. The US, for example, interfered with liberty throughout history with Woodrow Wilson, resulting in the Cold War, developed through economical levels with Ronald S. Reagan, militarily with George W. Bush. The last one stated: “The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands.” And this concept is nowadays petrified in our psyche, allowing us to act upon each others’ freedom based in our own concept of freedom.

Nevertheless, I refer here not to national or political freedoms, but to individual freedom. This freedom is a complex of values and a statement of independence cultivated through history, culture and personal expectations. “Live as you choose as long as you harm no one else” is what it is preached to us without legitimization of concepts of independence. This is a 60s notion in the popular mindset where extremists prepared a way to democracy, to human rights, towards real freedom by sacrificing their resources, health, familiar relationships and quality of life. It does not reflect freedom in behavior around over-consumption and economic instability, which restrains us from being who we really are. Part of it represents our egoistic beliefs that our lifestyles are the best for the society or fear that by allowing someone else to live as they want, we would put our freedom in danger. Freedom is defended as a status where a human is closer than ever to themselves.

At times, our understanding of freedom is corrupted by some daily correlation to concepts of liberty, individualism, anarchism and existentialism. Liberty refers to the possibility of having control over our actions. Individualism values independence and self-reliance to act upon our goals and desires over family, state or social groups. Anarchism is related to freedom when characteristics of opposing authority or hierarchical organization are mentioned. In existentialism, existence precedes essence – a man/woman is an individual, conscious and capable of choosing to be who they want despite social definitions. These theories of freedom became basis for social movements in western countries and are basic part of our modern revolution of mind and freedom.

One of the greatest lessons in my personal freedom was when my grandmother said to me after I finished high school that “despite what your parents say, you have to make sure you’re free to keep flying. If nobody can value your freedom, you have to value it yourself or lose it”. Simple as it is or film reality as it sounds,, it is hard every day to live the choices I’ve made. Freedom is in proportion to our capacity to choose what to do and how to act. But once we’ve made this choice, we have actually constrained and limited ourselves to thousands of other options and different scenarios. Then our freedom is also in proportion to our capacity for delight in living out our choices.

Freedom is a combination of accumulated values within our lives, not just moments of sovereign hauteur and numbness. It is our ability to make choices for ourselves, to be in control of ourselves and feel satisfied with ourselves. Freedom is not a choice that simply gives you a happy life, but a complete one and it will free you to feel happiness. Day by day, we decide to remain either locked up or to choose to break some of our chains. Freedom is not just who we are and what we want to become, but a construction of our actions. Do I keep studying these subjects? Do I keep working for this company? When will I talk to him about it? Freedom is out there, but is there anything free in this world? Well, you’re probably going to start observing more in your next conversations, parties, on the streets, in your own needs. In words of Lord Jim Morrison, when asked about Freedom: “…Expose yourself to your deepest fear. After that, fear has no power, and fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free.“ Free in your freedom, that’s maybe the way to go!

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  • P

    Interesting topic, good article!

  • Sébastian Lecart

    Great point of view! You couldn’t have explained it in a better way, mate. That’s how I decided to live my life as well and these “free” people still keep bullshitting me.

  • Bruna Credidio

    Very well written, Ed. And you managed to expose your point from an original perspective. Will suggest the reading to some good friends. I hope to see more of your reflexions here. Keep it up!

  • Ira

    a great article!! Very well written!! It makes you think and change priorities…Looking forward to new articles

  • Payaso

    It’s interesting to note the lack of congruence between the main argument of the article (i.e. DO NOT INDULGE IN HEDONISM) and the borrowed conclusion from an obviously very “open-minded” person, Lord Jim Morrison. I wonder what this guy’s deepest fear might be? Paradoxically, it probably is to fearlessly and freely experiment with some drugs for once and for all–well, this is just MAYBE another way to go. I like the healthy lifestyle kind of people but I think this person is talking about and against a subject that is highly complex, and which he has little first hand experience in. The very act of choosing to consume an illegal substance is an act of liberation. Drug-dependence is a grey area. Freedom is in the eye of the beholder.

  • R

    In actuality, this piece urges readers to avoid and overcome peer pressure, and problematically describes alcohol- and sexual abstinence as the true meaning of ”freedom”. Particularly in the second paragraph, it is clear that this piece is aimed at particular groups of people who cannot/do not have fun without the usage or recreational drugs and alcohol: these people are different than others who might have a few drinks on a Friday evening. This is not the only example in this piece, but overall: people are not so black and white as this.

    Grouping together ”those that drink” and ”those that do not” and assigning assumptions of behaviour to each of those groups is not just pointless in getting an opinion across to readers, but in fact makes it seem as though the only purpose of doing so is to view those who are not like you as the ”other”. Granted this is an opinion piece, but ultimately you are doing the same thing your friends in school did to you when you chose not to partake in their activities, and that is passing judgement on choices you yourself do not make.