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The concept of freedom has varying definitions and meanings that greatly depend on the context, aspect or perspective from which individual views it. The understanding of freedom also varies from one community to another or from one culture to another culture. However, there are definite meanings that are used globally and specific definitions that have been widely accepted. In my opinion, freedom refers to the ability of an individual or a group of individuals to act independently without any unnecessary external constraints, restrictions or limitations. It refers to a situation in which a person or a group of persons can freely act or pursue personal interests without external interferences and limitations. Freedom is the ability of a person to do what he or she wants. For example, a person should be able to live in a specific neighborhood where he wants, eat the type of food he wants or follow and believe in a specific religion he chooses. Freedom is the free will or ability of an individual to make choices without being limited or constrained by social factors such as fear or the threat of punishment. According to Patterson (2009), freedom is the ability of an individual to exercise self-control and self-ownership. It is the ability of an individual to act in accordance to his will and wish. On the other hand, Franzen (2010) defines freedom as the legal and social rights of individuals in a society that entitles them to certain specific rules. Franzen (2010) further clarifies that such legal and social rights are usually regarded as the pillars of the society and culture of the people. Another detailed definition by Kristjan (2011) describes freedom as the ability of a person to make the right choices without obstructing or impeding the wellbeing of other people. Legally speaking, a person may have different types of freedom such as the freedom of speech and expression, the freedom of worship and the freedom of association.

However, it is also important to note that the freedom of one individual should not interfere with the freedom or wellbeing of other people. Thus, there is no absolute freedom of individuals. Freedom should not be used wrongfully or in a manner that may cause offense to others, cause harm or go against or violate the rights of other people. According to Kristjan (2009) and Giddens (2010), social ethics and laws of freedom require that an individual should be held responsible and morally accountable for his or her actions.

The Importance of Freedom

The significance or importance of the freedom of an individual in life is a major social concern to many people in society. First and foremost, most philosophers argue that freedom is an essential component of our daily lives. Without freedom, people would be living enslaved lives. According to Patterson (2009), freedom creates legal and social rights as well as social liberties to the members of a community or society. Through legal and social rights, the actions of individuals in society are defined and confined in accordance with socially acceptable values, standards, and norms. For example, the right to life of an individual prevents another person from killing him because he or she wishes to do so. This is because taking away the life of an individual is viewed as a socially unacceptable act. Thus, freedom gives rise to legal and social rights that protect individuals from being harmed by other people. On the other hand, freedom creates social liberties that allow individuals to act according to their wills provided that such acts do not interfere or violate the rights of other people. According to Kristjan (2011), social liberties further create democracy in society, thus allowing people to act independently. For example, the freedom of speech entitles a person to speak freely whereas the freedom of association allows an individual to freely choose their friends and associates or people to gather with. Similarly, the freedom of worship allows individuals to freely believe in any religion. Thus, freedom allows people to do things according to their wills and choices hence fostering and encouraging democracy amongst the people.

Secondly, freedom facilitates innovation and creativity. An individual who is able to think and act independently usually develops creativity because his or her thoughts and thinking are not confined or limited by specific factors. For example, the freedom of association allows people to relate freely and share ideas and experiences. This usually leads to generation of new ideas and skills hence cultivating creativity and innovation in society.

Thirdly, freedom leads to increased productivity amongst individuals as well as attainment of happiness and high-quality life. This is because people are free and able to choose to do what satisfies them most, hence able to achieve happiness. Kristjan (2009) also asserts that freedom allows people to choose what they want in their lives, thus enabling them to live fulfilling and rewarding lifestyles. Consequently, a happy and healthy society is created.

Fourthly, freedom allows people to develop morally and consciously. This is because they are free to think consciously about their actions and other choices made in life. Thus, individuals are able to develop morally acceptable conducts and behaviors that conform to social values, standards and beliefs in society.

Fifthly, freedom also helps us in attaining personal growth and development. Through freedom, individuals are able to develop internal capabilities such as creative and critical thinking and sound decision making that enable them to perform specific functions successfully.  For example, freedom of association enables us to develop strong interpersonal relationships with other members of society. Similarly, people also use the freedom of expression to put across various issues that arise in our daily lives. This creates social awareness as well as initiates the search for alternative solutions for various problems faced by members of society. Giddens (2010) and Franzen (2010) also emphasize that without adequate freedom, an individual cannot truly become a mature human being. Through freedom, individuals are able to establish and determine their destinations. Freedom is also important because it forms a strong foundation on which other human rights are grounded.

Freedom also helps in establishing good leadership and governance in society. This is achieved through the creation of social democracies. For example, political freedom gives political rights to members of the society to elect freely and fairly the people whom they would like to see as their leaders.

According to Franzen (2010), freedom also helps in eliminating the suffering of persons. When people are deprived of their freedom, they tend to suffer both psychologically and emotionally. Thus, if freedom is guaranteed, such unwarranted and unnecessary suffering is eliminated. For example, a person locked up in a jail or prison is usually deprived of his or her freedom of association and movement. This usually results in the immense psychological torture of this person. Last but not least, the existence of freedom in society usually leads to social justice and equality. This is because members of the community are treated equally based on their rights as citizens.


In conclusion, I would reassert that the idea of freedom is complex and multifaceted. It is defined and understood differently by different persons and societies. In addition, its context may also change from one generation to another. However, the value and importance of freedom will never change. For example, through an adequate understanding of freedom, individuals are able to appreciate social diversity with respect to cultural and religious practices. To sum up, I would state that freedom is an innate right that all human beings should have or possess. Every individual must respect the freedom of other people as they exercise or enjoy their own freedoms. For my part, freedom means more than just doing what individual wishes to do. Good freedom should take into consideration the interests and welfare of other people as well. Thus, good freedom should not infringe or violate the legal and social rights of other people.

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