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Essay on “Freedom” Complete Essay for Class 10, Class 12 and Graduation and other classes.

Freedom

 

POINTS TO DEVELOP

  1. Freedom is a confusing term.
  2. Extreme views on freedom-advocates of absolute freedom and supporters of suppression of individual freedom.
  3. Freedom a social concept requiring balance in exercise.
  4. Path of freedom difficult as it involves conscious decision, thinking ability, social consciousness, courage of conviction, confidence to face a lonely existence.
  5. Freedom a sublimation of the rebel in us.
  6. Social change possible only through exercise of freedom of the individual.

 

What is freedom? It is a difficult question to answer categorically. Does it mean absolute liberty to do as one pleases? Complete non-restraint to pursue any fancy that strikes one? Is such a free existence possible at all for a human being? Freedom is, indeed, a nebulous concept, laying itself open to several interpretations, even conflicting ones.

There are champions of freedom who vehemently oppose any form of social control. Thoreau at least allows the need of some government-“the best government is the least government”–but there are others who denounce any sort of organisation at all. But given the imperfect nature of human beings, surely, such freedom would degenerate into anarchy and finally to the survival of the fittest in the sense of brute power? It would result in the tyranny of the weak by the strong; it would mean freedom for the strong and enslavement of the weak.

At the other extreme are those who are thoroughly suspicious of individual freedom. They have such a low opinion of human reason that they cannot allow an individual the right to choose and decide on his or her own. Any deviation from a rigid social average is seen as a threat to society. Social equilibrium is the end-all to which individual initiative must, perforce, be sacrificed. But such a society will soon lose its vibrant dynamism, become ponderous and static and finally collapse under the weight of its own rigidity. As did the Greek and Roman civilisations.

The extremes, thus, can harm society. But one may deduce that freedom is a social concept. If human beings lived as isolated entities, the meaning of freedom has no importance. It is because they live in groups, in societies, that the concept of individual freedom needs to be understood at all. C.E.M. load remarks that the situation of the human

being is like that of a pack of porcupines huddling together; but a felt wrapping round each one prevents the quills of one from pricking the other. The felt wrapping is, of course, social control. In the absence of social control, one man’s actions may prove uncomfortable to another. On the other hand, if the social control becomes excessive individual identity is likely to be subsumed under that of a group or community. Freedom thus has to steer a careful course between a stifling social tyranny and a bewildering licentiousness.

Freedom, indeed, can be a burden. Enjoyment of freedom requires the use of one’s brains, it calls for decision, the willingness and ability to choose between right and wrong, indeed, to contemplate on what is right and wrong. The exercise of freedom and the capacity to perceive its perversions requires of a human being a very high degree of integrity and social consciousness. Erich Fromm in his Fear of Freedom correctly argues that with a low level of social consciousness, man has a tendency to misuse freedom by either oppressing his fellowmen or by running away from the exercise of freedom. The practice of freedom involves taking decisions with the full awareness of the responsibility it entails; it implies a readiness to accept the consequences of any such decision.

The conscious exercise of freedom is not easy. One meets with opposition from different sides at different levels and of different degrees. Pursuit of freedom in action and thought requires courage of conviction and then the self- confidence to face even social ostracism. Society does not like individual exercise of freedom. Even a hairstyle or dress somewhat different from that of the majority invites the raised eyebrow, sniggers or derisive comment. If one chooses to think differently from the herd, the consequences maybe quite dangerous to such a thinker. Socrates, after all, was executed for choosing to think freely. Galileo was tortured for his freedom of thought. If one wants freedom, one must be ready to pay a price for it.

Yet, in each one of us, there is a hidden rebel. Even eccentricity is a form of defiance, a protest, an expression of resentment against conformity. It is this basic instinct in man that sublimates itself in the form of freedom. Each one of us is a non-conformist in some sense or the other and this shows the urge for freedom.

It is the courageous exercise of freedom that makes human beings question social evils and attempt to change things for the better. When one says that freedom should not harm society, it does not mean that society has to be accepted as it is with all its ills. As human consciousness evolves, as awareness and knowledge grows, and if social norms seem to have acquired an oppressive quality, the exercise of freedom to change the system becomes imperative. Throughout history, social change takes place mainly because an individual first manifests the courage to question existent beliefs and practices, break free of them and create better alternatives. That is true freedom.

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