Free To Be
The end of a long, peaceful and restful Labour Day weekend and every minute of it was enjoyed and savoured – at least in my household of one. One of the many things that was accomplished was simply relaxing. Two days and minimal ‘work’ was done here, aside from posting one article a day, including yesterday’s, Katelyn Roth’s on “5 Ways To Split Expenses Without Splitting Up.”
Surprisingly, that post had me thinking about personal freedom – what it means and how does one achieve it. Is a coup de maison necessary, if not a country-wide revolution for a person to reach a point in his/her life where they feel “free?”
The Iron Lady
Our afternoon post today will explore the more metaphysical or even practical spiritual understanding of personal freedom and give some insights about how it might be achieved. My intrigue with the subject deepened as I finally watched Meryl Streep in the movie “The Iron Lady.”
Younger readers might not know who was referred to by that ‘name’. The late and first female Prime Minister of Great Britain, Margaret Thatcher, was called that and it is a term that “was coined by Captain Yuri Gavrilov in 1976 in the Soviet newspaper Red Star, for her staunch opposition to the Soviet Union and socialism.” (Source: Wikipedia)
Admittedly, during the period of her “reign,” from 1979 – 1990, I was among those who felt that she led her country more with a whip than anything else, cutting across its economic backsides as she withdrew the social salves that many had depended on, especially in times of hardship.
My opinion of her tempered as my life evolved and with my many roles in leadership, although clearly on a more minuscule scale compared to Mrs. Thatcher’s. She was a decisive woman, eloquent in her presentations and driven by her passions about her country and its pride of place in the world that it had “lost” to the United States. Her distaste for everything socialist was well-known and the shoulder that she often turned towards the former Soviet Union could be more cold than the Siberian winter.
Do I now agree with everything that she did, how she governed her country and ran her party? No, of course not, however in the light of retrospect and as more is written about her, movies made and as we watch economies “fail” and more and more people lose their sense of personal responsibility, it is difficult not to see that Margaret Thatcher made sense in some important ways.
A Philosophy of Freedom and Imagination
Watching the movie last evening, in one scene she was asked about a recent visit that she had made to the United States and how would she compare that country with her own. Maybe the scriptwriter edited the lines for dramatic effect but this is basically the quote:
Europe was created by history. America was created by philosophy.
It is that philosophy – one largely grounded in personal freedom – that many admire most about the United States, even while other issues such as racism and the current strong wind of misogyny threaten the well-being of a large part of that country. The imaginative spirit is alive and well in the United States and in many other countries in the world. That spirit is what helps people to soar even in times of economic hardship and societal challenges.
The 2015 Human Freedom Index (HFI) was released in August and funny enough, the United States was not among the top 10 countries where personal freedom is enjoyed by its population. Hong Kong was actually #1 and Canada was among the top ten countries.
Personal Freedom is defined in the HFI as “the degree to which people are free to enjoy the major freedoms often referred to as civil liberties—freedom of speech, religion, and association and assembly in the countries in the survey. In addition it includes indicators on rule of law, crime and violence, freedom of movement, and legal discrimination against same-sex relationships.” Have a read of the full report here and incidentally, the United Kingdom was #9 on the list.
Money Does Not Equal Fully Free
What this points to is that economic freedom does not necessarily equate to personal freedom. In simple terms, money and stuff do not make you free. Yes, it is definitely more easy to make your way through the world, buy those things that you want most and have doors open – which are all great. However, if the community in which you live lacks those “major freedoms” as described earlier, those with money either lose it eventually or leave the community.
Personal freedom, to be sustainable, must and can begin in each of us and Allanah Hunt say it best:
“It is only when you take responsibility for your life that you discover how powerful you truly are.”
Have a great first working day of the week – those of you coming off the long weekend!