Freedom: Choose responsibly with full ownership

Freedom is living your life your way and be accountable.

Photo by Basil James on Unsplash

Freedom doesn’t come free…there’s a price to pay…and it’s called responsibility.

Over the centuries we have been hearing about freedom. Freedom of expression, freedom of action, freedom from oppression, freedom of speech, freedom from slavery, etc. etc. I guess the single most important thing that can make or break a person is freedom. And only we humans have tried to snatch away this most important need of ours. There are no such issues within the animal kingdom. Nobody tries to suppress anyone’s will or desire to explore. Every animal knows that there will be a price to pay if it doesn’t remain alert or smart.

What was the need for mankind to get into oppression, slavery, dominance, restriction, confinement, capture, and imprisonment? The need to do this came from the basic mentality of dominance. A man dominating a woman, an authority dominating the citizens, rich dominating the poor, the strong over the weak. The desire to become all-powerful, expand wealth and material possession led mankind to dominate over others. Freedom became the buzz word since ages and many wars have been fought over this. The first known written reference to freedom appears during the Third Dynasty of Ur (c. 2112 BC — c. 2004 BC) as Ama-gi, in the sense of freedom from bondage or debts, and literally meant “return to mother”.

But don’t worry I am not going to take you, dear readers, into the political side of freedom. Like always I will be talking about freedom as in our personal lives, within our family, friends, colleagues, as well as society as a whole. Let me start with my own story.

The day I finished my graduation, like in every graduate’s life, the normal pressures of campus interviews, job applications, further studies, foreign universities, etc. started. I come from a family of government employees. My dad, uncles, aunts all were employed by government firms. I had observed them all, specially my dad, and one thing I wanted was to be free of these red tapes, bureaucracies, and ‘working for somebody’ concept. I needed control over my time, needed to work and deliver as per my own dreams, direct my passion in a way so as to reap maximum benefits- both in terms of finances as well as satisfaction of achievement. I decided to become an entrepreneur and start my own business — small as it might be but THAT was the definition of my freedom.

That was my first professional brush with freedom. Started enjoying the freedom of time, freedom from reporting to a boss, freedom to steer the company in the direction of my choice, dreams, and vision. Slowly the sense of responsibility took over the joy of absolute innocent freedom. I started realizing that I am now responsible to people. Staff and associates depend on me. My decisions and actions affect people, my family, my company. This made me more determined to succeed, to be even more careful and alert, and made me a better team player because you cannot grow if you work like an island…you need others to grow with you and grow together.

Recently I once again realized the fact that freedom and responsibility or accountability go hand in hand. My daughter, Saloni, recently passed the IB DP program in Grade 12. Since a few months we, as parents, had started the thought process of where to after Grade 12? Where will she do her further studies? Where will she complete her university graduation? Which university will she apply to and where should she take up admission once the offer starts coming in? So many questions and so much to think about. I remember my days some 3 decades ago when such debates and discussions were happening at my home with my dad. The fees, whether scholarship will be possible, what about visa formalities, etc. And…

…we start the conversation with her and it almost ends in just a couple of minutes. She is decided on her major, which university, which campus, and proper reasoning as to why. Fully researched upon firm replies. We wanted her to select a particular city as our family and friends and business network is strongest there but nope! She is firm and ready. She applies in 13 universities and within a span of 3 months she gets admission confirmation from them — all 13 of them, with different scholarship offered at different universities. Now this I believe is freedom. Over the years, we were always there for her but majorly as a fallback or for a second opinion. We allowed her to think, and introspect the pros and cons. She knew very well that this freedom will come at a cost. Cost of being solely accountable for these decisions. Tomorrow she cannot come back and tell us otherwise, and honest to God, that’s what she wants. She doesn’t want to pass the buck and put the blame on anybody else and feel miserable about it. At least by taking her own decision and doing her extensive research, she knows it well that there is no fallback and she cannot crib or blame anyone.

In our lives, we always have fallbacks but how we use them is upto us. We keep going back to them every time we feel we are at a crossroad or we go to them when we fail and need a helping hand is up to us. Understanding that we are responsible for our freedom and what comes from that is very important. Enjoying freedom and then passing the buck on someone is cowardice and narcissistic behaviour. Own it up buddy!

At home, freedom can many times be taken as weakness. Trust me there are so many examples of parents putting in a lot of restrictions on their children like gadget time restriction, play time restriction, etc., whereas there are some parents who do not restrict and give that choice to their children. I have personally seen that these latter children are better behaved, disciplined, and probably equals in study to their counterparts. The magic bullet is developing the sense of accountability and being responsible. My parenting skills are of the latter types (and have been told by some that I am a weak parent)…my kids have always been given freedom to choose their timings and their activities. Proud to say they have developed to be exceptional individuals and class toppers in many subjects, besides being good at sports and music.

Freedom: Be careful how you use it

There have been cases when freedom has been misused — specially the freedom of speech and expression- the basic constitutional right of any citizen. Spreading hate speech and talking down someone on religion or gender is a big no no. People have misused this right the maximum and many of the disputes and situation could have been averted had people been sensitive and caring. But in the name of freedom and politics, certain elements have spread hate, instigated crime, and created chaos which can once again lead to dominance, oppression and a need to be free.

As my friend and life coach Ouafae Houat says, “Freedom is earned, and not demanded. A free spirit helps make the choices that one wants and take the ownership of them. The courage to be outstanding and not to belong to someone and feel good and proud of the achievement while constantly realizing that it’s always been your call. Freedom is a trigger to dream high and achieve higher.” So well said Ouafae! Thanks for sharing your views which motivated me to write on this favourite topic of mine.

Let’s unite in the fight of #truefreedom #responsiblefreedom #freedomtoaccountability and, for a change, learn something from the animal kingdom. Let’s understand that “Freedom is not the right to do as you please, it is the liberty to do what you ought to do.”

Passing thoughts

People who normally enjoy the free world may not even understand the depth of this article. The value of anything can be understood only when it’s absent from your lives. Ask those who are oppressed or restricted and they will tell you the true value of freedom. Crux of the matter lies in the question that whether the “free” people understand the true price of this privilege they enjoy as a given. Nothing comes free, my dear friend, not even freedom.

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