The Meaning of Freedom

Freedom- (Noun) The power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint.

Freedom has many different meanings to different people. Some teenagers may think that freedom is moving out of their parents house or not having to depend on their parents for money. When salary was prominent, there were still many views on what freedom is. For an example, Fredrick Douglas and Harriet Jacobs had different views on what freedom  meant to them. Fredrick Douglas made it a point to let his master know he was a “human” and not just a piece of property, which is demonstrated in their fight in the barn. Douglass did not have family ties and was able to selfishly escape to the noslaverth to better himself and feel like an average person, not a slave. Meanwhile, Harriet Jacobs had a more difficult time in escaping due to the fact that she had emotional family ties. Being a woman, she had the constant threat of being raped by her master with the possibility of giving birth to his child and having her family being sold off. For Jacobs, freedom meant not being a sex object as Douglas thought of freedom as not being a piece of property.

In more recent times, we struggle with the term of freedom. Illegal citizens may think that freedom is gaining citizenship in the United States. They may come from over the broader, or across an ocean, and to be able to officially state that you are a citizen of the United States of America, is a freedom since they are not in hiding due to the possibility of being deported. In some cultures, freedom may mean to be able to marry who you want to marry instead of having an arranged marriage with someone you do not love; which is an issue that Harriet Jacobs dealt with. Choosing who you want to marry  may be a sign of freedom as you are the one making the decision and not feeling like you are being sold in marriage. Also, the meaning of freedom is different for those who are incarcerated. Even though they live in a free country, they are under the rule of the county or government and unable to enjoy everyday luxuries of being able to go where you want when you want. 

Although slavery, which is used to help define freedom, has been illegal for many years there are still many definitions with the term in which people may feel like they do not have freedom. Today, on the surface it may feel like Americans are free, but to what extent? Is the woman with the arranged marriage anymore free than the man sitting in a cell? Or is thefreedom illegal immigrant, in hiding, just as free as the girl who was taken from her family and is now apart of a sex ring? It is so easy to say “I live in America, where it is the land of the free”, but for many americans that, unfortunately, does not apply.

About ricquelln

Major- Political Science
Arizona State University

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9 Responses to The Meaning of Freedom

  1. mike65965 says:

    It is a harsh reality to realize how many ways today in which people are controlled by others. As far as an inmate is concerned i brought up the question at the end of my blog post, we send people to prison for decades in our country for non-violent offenses. we need to assess what our goal is when we incarcerate anyone. Is it acceptable to take away a persons freedom for a portion of their life for what they did? in some cases yes but in others i don’t think so. I hope as a nation we do recognize the wrongs happening around us and do take action to stop as much of it as we can.

  2. iannukem says:

    I love this blog and the question you pose at the end of it because “freedom” is a relative and subjective term in this country. Even those of us like you or me, young college students with an open book for where we want to take our lives, may not always feel free because of financial restraints, societal expectations or family obligations. I also think this is why freedom for all is an illusive unicorn of a perfect society because freedom can mean different things to different individuals (as you mention Douglass and Jacobs) and ensuring each member of a society truly feels free comes down to potentially sacrificing the freedom some to promote more freedom for another group.

  3. trose91 says:

    I have enjoyed all of the blogs that have been posted in this semester…. But my goodness this is my absolute most favorite blog. Great job. I loved the way you ended it by posing questions that really make readers think. Thanks for sharing. Great job.

  4. ethanmolinar says:

    I really liked your blog post and the differences that you noted between Douglas and Jacobs. Especially how they both had different ideas about what I meant to be free. This reminded me of the Emerson quote, from his essay entitled Self-Reliance, “To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men,— that is genius.” Freedom and the various forms it takes seems to be a central element of American Political Thought. Emerson definitely had his own views on freedom “No government or church can explain a man’s heart to him, and so each individual must resist institutional authority.” Despite the varying beliefs we all have about what it is that makes us free we can all agree that escaping slavery is a dramatic act of resisting institutional authority.

  5. nicmccaleb says:

    I really like your post. I think examining the dictionary definition of the word freedom is a bit troublesome: Freedom- (Noun) The power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint. If true freedom is what we seek, then what controls does a truly free society have when people exercise their indefinite right to “act” through means of violence? A truly free society, in my mind, would result in definite chaos. Humans need some hinderance or restraint in order to create a civilized society.

  6. jcpartida says:

    I liked the idea, the premise, of this post but not necessarily the execution of it. The hook, the definer was a really interesting choice because defining a word, a word as connotative as freedom, can lead to a variety of very open ended discussions. I just think i was expecting more with that definition, but i think you hit a stride when you mentioned Douglass’s and Jacob’s freedom and what it meant to them. Though with the others that you stated what freedom could look like to them, but not really what it is. Now i don’t mean what it is, but what it IS, not just what freedom looks like but what it signifies and how that definition, YOUR definition, helps identify that. Also are you trying to say that just because people in some circumstances in their life don’t identify with that definition of free, then as a whole they aren’t free? are there certain thresholds that society must reach before they can be considered free? if someone thinks that they are free, and someone tells them that they aren’t, are they free? and if someone feels that they aren’t free, but in actuality they are,are they? do i get to define if anyone in “actuality” is free? are free and freedom actually the same thing? what do you define as hindrance or restraint? the multitude of open ended questions is something i hope to continue with topics like this, and something i feel everyone can contribute to.

  7. tonybetz says:

    This was a very well thought out blog post, and I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. Never have I truly thought of an arranged marriage as possibly being a form of enslavement. When I read that question at the end I didn’t really expect to feel effected by your article, so when I read that article it just sort of felt like a bombshell. Is an illegal immigrant who is hiding any more free than the girl forced into the sex ring? This was a moving post thank you I really enjoyed it.

  8. zschilling says:

    Your post really opened my mind to the barriers of true democracy in America and accross the Globe. The United States is the leader in creating the most Democratic country in the world. (Even though it still has its barriers). The term ‘Freedom” can be interpreted and defined in many different ways. Some may view freedom as you define it: The power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint. But to some freedom is more than just having these rights. LGBT and Black Lives Matter organizations are prime examples in todays political spectrum. They fight for equality and rights; as they understand other forms of slavery and hinderances in our democratic government/society.

  9. nshah210 says:

    I have always wondered the modern definition of freedom and what it truly means to be free. We can always look to history and pinpoint what freedom meant in that situation, but when you are in the present, it’s really hard to think about what we think of freedom since most of what we take is for granted. I would agree that freedom nowadays seems kinda arbitrary as to getting your license, getting to drink, moving out, getting a job. Though I do agree with more of the social issues of getting the right to marry whomever you want and having the recognition to be whatever gender you want and having society accept you for who you choose to be. I think freedom is having simple basic rights of who you choose to be and having people accept it and not treat you differently.

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