Liberty according to the Merriam Webster dictionary can be described as a “the state of being free from oppression and restriction imposed by authorities on one’s behavior or political views”. For example, freedom of religion is freedom from interference and to alone to practice your own religion as you see it fit. Embedded in liberty is the principle of freedom, I think of liberty as the environment that allows freedoms to exists. In western countries, some of the freedoms that we have are; freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of expression and freedom to choose one state of life. For the next few paragraphs, I am going to focus more on personal freedom and not freedom awarded to us by the state.
It is often assumed that freedom and happiness are the same things but I assure you they are not. For example, I have freedom of speech, but the speech I put out will not always bring happiness to people around me or to myself. For the freedom to last in many ways it has to be accompanied with regulations. If you look at the various religious codes, they nothing but giant books on how people should behave and act in public and private life. Having these behavioral codes assumes that there some behaviors that are not deemed not good for human flourishing. Within freedom of speech, we have what we can say and we cannot say. You cannot say or publish misleading statements, say anything that will affect other people’s reputation without evidence or incite violence. Laws that prohibit some speech are what makes free speech, free speech. My basic opinion on free speech is, as long as speech is not defaming, inciting violence or lying you can say whatever you want.
On a personal level, it is true we are all free to do whatever we want with our bodies. We are free to drink alcohol till our heart content, have sex with whoever we want, take drugs etc. Dr. Os, Guinness once said, “The greatest threat to freedom is freedom itself”. And if freedom is taken literally we put our selves at risk of losing freedom. For example, Hollywood is riddled with a lot of actors, rich beyond measure, have freedoms that only money could buy. Most of them are either dead or have been in rehab trying to control their unchained passions. Western countries are some the most prosperous and free countries, but they are also the most overly medicated countries. The United States is among the most depressed countries which is sad because it is also the land of the free and the brave.
Finally, life is like a game of chess, the reason chess is so enjoyable to play is the rules. Chess has so many rules, but it also has an infinite number of ways the game can be played. This principle also applies to parenting as well, children, in my opinion, thrive if there are structures and boundaries. Libertarian parenting only works in theory but in reality, life has to have rules and limitations and it is these rules that help us enjoy the freedoms that we have. Someone once said, “Before we pull down structures and boundaries we have to ask ourselves why they were put there in the first place”. The genius of the American revolution is that after the revolution, freedom was given a structure for people to follow and in my opinion, this is what has stabilized America till now. Values and norms that hold society are paramount for the freedom to survive. The idea of the rule of law, in my opinion, is based on the assumption that if power is concentrated in on person or entity, it will eventually lead to tyranny. So the system has checks and balances to limit what people can do and not do in public life.