“I – ME AND MY LIFE” – IS IT ABUSING FREEDOM!

Uff… How annoying are my Mom and Dad! I don’t like anyone interfering in my personal matter it’s I – Me and My life. Do I need to check with them before making friendship! I wish I could be away from home, somewhere in a big metro city, having my own space, having as much money as I can in my wallet, there will be no one to question on my lifestyle.    

Any middle-class Indian teen can easily relate to my teenage wish. It was 2016, I had recently moved to Kolkata. I came to know one guy from my hometown, who is known to me also lives in Kolkata. Several times, I tried to connect with him but always found him making some excuses for the busy schedule. Later on, one of his friends revealed me, it would be better for me to ignore him and stay away from his mess. His flat was not in the condition that any gentleman can stick there for a few minutes. After a few months, I came to know that he lost his job and had moved to our hometown.

During his college days, he was one of the most handsome looking guys in his group, financially quite sound and had studied from one of most prestigious schools But Now has lost health, unemployed and running out of money. He is a drug addict and lives an absconding life.   

“Freedom is destroyed not only by its retraction; it is also devastated by its abuse” – Dr. Ravi Zacharias

Freedom of will is indispensable and gives worth to every individual but it doesn’t give us the license of absoluteness. Freedom is always within the fence. But as we ignore the fence we misinterpret the definition freedom as “ABSOLUTE”. By doing it we abuse our freedom, considering it as an approval for anything and everything.

The Bible says,

“You say, “I am allowed to do anything” – BUT NOT everything is good for you.

You say, “I am allowed to do anything” – BUT NOT everything is beneficial”.

One of the common slogans of our generation is “Speed thrills but never kills”. Gearing beyond the speed limit is a thrilling experience and a smart work of hitting destination before time. Speed is freedom to enjoy the ride but gearing beyond the speed limit is jeopardizing our own life and our co-riders life. We can never deny the truth that, our life is not only hooked to our individualism. Our family’s life – our friend’s life – our community’s life is keenly weaved to the strands of our lifestyle.

An extramarital affair will not only devastate an individual’s personal life but moreover, it devastates his spouse’s life, it risks his family reputation and corrupts his community’s morality. Abusing freedom by understanding it as absolute is jeopardizing the sacred right of self and others.

The Bible says,

“No one should seek his own good, but the good of others”

By abusing freedom I traverse the moral and ethical boundaries of mine and others as well. As the end product of this violation, the enmity is created and we are tagged with all kinds of disgraceful identities and our life becomes a burden for self and to others.

God has created every individual for a unique purpose and a reflective splendor of him but by abusing freedom we create enmity with God and others.

The Bible says,

“It is because of your debauched life you are alienated from God and become the enemies of God in your mind.”

Let’s not abuse our freedom but fear God and shun evil!

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DEMOCRACY AND FREEDOM

What’s Freedom? Probably not setting up the alarm in the night and not worrying about the clock ticking in the morning; stuffing up your favourite dishes without giving a damn to calories or pounds; spending without having to think twice about the bank balance and so on. But these things are too trivial, in fact, insignificant to define a deep and profound concept of “Freedom”.  My dear friends Chiradeep, Aastha, Prerna Aditi have beautifully given their insights on the same.  To be precise this week is about “Misuse Of Freedom”. Let’s see if I can bring something new to the plate, fingers crossed.

I hail from India, the largest democratic country in the world, where people have a say, rather “The Say”. It’s the public that elects their leaders to lead from the front.  To say the least, everyone knows what democracy means.  Our constitution makers after freedom decided to award a democratic setup to the generations to come because they precisely know what slavery means. And antonym to slavery is free, isn’t it? In my opinion, it won’t be wrong to say that “Freedom” is an unmistakably characteristic trait of democracy.

Freedom to choose and elect, freedom to practice the preferred religion, freedom to speak, freedom to contest (elections), freedom to form associations and so on so forth.  We really are a free nation. Really? That’s worth a point for a good debate.  Well, I am not up for that at this point.  Let’s focus on “Misuse” of freedom in a democracy.

Just as freedom (trust), when breached in a relationship, leads to disturbed bonds and emotional shutdown freedom in democracy when misused gives birth to disharmony in the country.  The bricks of democracy are laid on the foundation of trust – on its public and the government, trust that they will work in tandem with the interests of the country.  But alas there is no dearth of examples where this grant of trust/freedom is not only breached but murdered brutally.

Let me list a few examples:

  • A stand-up comedy show and a certain gentleman cracking up the most distasteful / under the belt jokes about a particular section of people in the society.  And when questioned it was all tucked under the carpet in the name of comedy. And freedom of speech card used effectively.  How appropriate is that?
  • A group of people shouting out anti-national slogans or instigating and poisoning minds  – again freedom of speech is highlighted.  Doesn’t it amount to being a traitor? Questioning the government on its policies is exercising freedom to question but conspiring against the country is treason, case closed!
  • A public servant or a politician misappropriating public funds for their personal purposes, amassing illegal wealth is a classic example of misuse of many things per se power, trust, freedom to build future.
  • Electing an unsuitable candidate as a leader purely based on false propaganda without a fact check is a misuse of freedom to elect which can only result in damaging the future of the country in an irrevocable manner.
  • Freedom to Express themselves is often misused as a right to abuse on social media and people often forget that if they have freedom to express themselves others also have freedom to disagree.

That was a handful and of course a very vague view of how “Freedom” could be and is misused in a democracy.  Freedom is a precious gift that must be cared for because of freedom exercised with responsibility no matter in what capacity paves a way for a better future, period! Freedom doesn’t mean to encroach other rights. And when freedom in a democracy is misused that’s what exactly happens – abuse of others freedom and rights. A small example: you have are free to celebrate your success at your home with your near and dear ones and in that process you break all the rules pertaining to the decibel levels thereby disturbing your neighbour’s sleep. On questioning you say “that’s my choice how to celebrate”.  Fair enough but what about the other party’s right of having a peaceful environment.  This happens.

We must value our democratic set up as much as we do our freedom as it demanded so many sacrifices, remember it.

Have you ever wondered why we need policing, rules and laws? Simple – to instill fear (respect is a minority, unfortunately) of consequences if your rights or freedom as a human or citizen are misappropriated.   They are to give everyone a fair chance of exercising their “freedom” and to curb misuse of it.

FIGHT FOR RIGHT!

Freedom of speech is under peril and suppression is on the rise. This has been a constant fabrication for centuries. But today’s risk is not only being incited by tyrants and sovereigns, as was the case in the past. Rather, it is being stoked up by the very people who are thought to protect this principle: democratically elected bureaucrats, artists, and journalists.

Article 19 of Human Rights declares that “everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression”. Yet, this right is unquestionably not certain because of the basic components of language.

Words, sentences and passages release impacts. They provoke sentiments in audiences and users. Language is never unbiased.

But far too often it is the case that analysts and diplomats give rise to unrealistic and absurd social aspects through the means of their platforms. They post, tweet and share to turn the tide of public opinion in or against sensitive matters, using inception and inducement to their personal cause.

Grievously, these radical viewpoints are not just limited to the boundaries of society. Rather, they are part of the game for governments in the mainstreams. At times of elections, these governmental bodies themselves hints that the right to freedom of speech is being used for worthless, adverse and evil purposes. This leaves us with a bigger problem, how to make sure there’s no obvious abuse of one’s right to freedom of speech and freedom of expression.

Owing to the heedless exercising of our right to freedom of speech, the decree to reduce the liberty of viewpoint and effect is, regrettably, growing powerful. It is an extremely saddening reality that general theory of common man infers that the circumstances are worse enough that they want their governments to resolve to forbid such speeches and therefore propose degrees of censorship.

Though the aim of forbidding people from making an attacking comment is good, it nevertheless serves as a catch-22 situation because it would deliver the governments with way too much authority in selecting what is or isn’t offensive. With power comes duties – and in this singular context, one’s duty includes not invoking disorder, chaos and mayhem. It is hence obvious why people would want to back governmental impose of censorship upon the manipulation of freedom of speech.

Only and only by using language for the right causes can we secure the liberal right to freedom of speech. However, like I always say, this isn’t a one-way road. Well-known figures, shouldn’t use blasphemy or profanity in a manner that justifies extensive monitoring and restrictions of our speech.

To sum it up I would like to recite Voltaire’s famous quote: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it”.

ABUSING THE POWER OF FREEDOM

I was wondering, what are in the world that gives us the power of freedom which we ultimately abuse or manipulate or misuse. And I found quite a number of things that allow us this Power of Freedom. And tonight, I would love to talk about them one after the other.

LEFT ALL ALONE

Have you ever stayed all alone at home? What do you do when you are all alone? Do you do things which are not allowable or permissible when your family members are around? Do you just freak out? Do you roam around naked (nothing to care about) in the house? Do you wait for that time when you can be left alone in the house so that you can accomplish your mischievous acts?

But why do we do like that?

I have stayed many times, all alone in my house. And that is the time I feel I have all the powers of this earth. That is the time when I feel, I can do everything that I want to as there’s no one to watch me or instruct me or interfere in my matter or obstruct me. I feel I have all the freedom I can ever have at that particular moment of aloneness. But that is the time I was put to test – The Test of Utilizing my Freedom.

No elders or parents would leave a kid alone in the house because they know that they are not matured enough to utilize their freedom. They can even put themselves to great danger. So, they were not given that liberty or freedom to stay alone at home.

My uncle who is also the founder of the organization I work in, always says one thing: “I don’t like tying you up with rules and regulations or police around you, but allow you the freedom to grow and explore yourself within this organization with diligence and sincerity.”

But somewhere we lack to handle that power of freedom bestowed on or entrusted to us. I have failed in it many times, I won’t lie. And I know we all fail at this or that point of time in our life when we were left all alone.

The Bible says – “Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment.

DARKNESS

By darkness, I mean the opportunity of not being caught or seen. This is actually quite similar to being left all alone but there’s a difference here which I will explain.

Suppose, in a hall where many are celebrating an occasion and the parents of a boy barred him not to tease the small girl of another couple. But unfortunately, there is a power cut and the hall became pitched dark for two minutes. And that darkness gave the boy the power of freedom and he went and pinched the cheeks of that little girl, to which she started squealing aloud. The boy would not have been punished severely by his parents if he would have obeyed his parents and would not have misused that momentary freedom he got because of darkness.

Thieves get that power of freedom when it is night or dark. Trust me, things that are done in darkness or undercover are never a righteous or pious one. Bribes are always given under the table.

Are we waiting for the lights to switch off so that we can misuse the power of freedom we get because of that darkness? Keep pondering.

The Bible says – “Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed.

MONEY/WEALTH

Money gives the purchasing power as well as the power of freedom to its owner. And mostly, they misuse it.

I remember, when I used to get a small salary, my monthly budget was small obviously and above that my desire to acquire things were lesser. But when I got a good amount of money at the beginning of the month, I felt that power of freedom to buy this, that and many other things which I never used to think of. Don’t think that I am talking about necessary items needed at home. I am talking about useless things which I buy sometimes and regret later on.

In most of the lower-middle-class family, you would find them struggling after 25th of every month. Why? Because they used up their money lavishly using their power of freedom in the beginning and have nothing or very less money to buy the essentials for the last fourth or five days.

Hilarious??? But that’s the truth.

The Bible says very interestingly – Why should fools have money in hand to buy wisdom, when they are not able to understand it?

If I go on like this, I can find many such things that allow us complete freedom, either for some time or forever. Like the gift of FREEWILL, Power of Freedom is also attached with a series of responsibilities to it which are needed to be carried out in a better way and not to misuse it.

Whether it is in our home among all the family members, whether it is within the marital boundary, whether it is at our workplace, we do get that power of freedom in our hand to exercise it. Do we use them wisely or misuse it for our selfish desires and addictions?

Remember: “The abuse of liberty leads to bondage, the bondage of sin.”

Keep reading, keep pondering…

Stay Blessed!

FREEDOM IS COSTLY!

As a baby when I started crawling, I loved to get hold of all that was reachable to me. My parents set me free to crawl on the floor and they loved to watch me crawling on the floor and trying to grab things with my tiny little palms. Oh… what a cute and lovely moments they were! During those days I loved to lay my hands on the burning mosquito coil in the darkness of night. Many times my father took me back from grabbing the burning coil. But one night I finally grabbed the burning mosquito coil and as result my left pointing finger got burnt. Though my wound was healed but it gave away a burn mark and every time I looked at it. This reminds me, “Freedom is Costly!!!”

The Bible says, “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but I will not be mastered by anything.

Since the creation of Mankind, the first blessing of God gave to human being is, “Be fruitful and increase in number, fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” My parents kept me free to crawl around but why was I hurt while enjoying that freedom?

Though we are eternally blessed to RULE, why are we still in captivity?

Our family gives us some freedom – Our society gives us some freedom – Our Constitution gives us some freedom but that doesn’t mean we are Absolutely free! Freedom without PRINCIPLE is not freedom, it’s ANARCHY and in return it takes our joy and holiness into account.

Someone has rightly said, ‘there is no free lunch’! In my innocence, as I violated my freedom I became a slave to the burn mark on my body and in turn my father Paid the Price of my violation by paying the bill of my treatment. My passport approves me as the Citizen of “Republic of INDIA” but I didn’t pay the price. I enjoy my free citizenship because of my freedom fighters and my free citizenship is secured because my soldiers are paying the price.

Warren Buffet said, “Price is what is Paid, Value is what is Received!”

The Bible says, “Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves”. My freedom is not my absolute enjoyment rather it should be my Obligation to my father, who paid the price and I received its value in return.

Freedom is Costly and someone has Paid the Price!

Let’s live worthy of it!

Stay FREE, don’t get entangled in slavery!

Avinash

THE UTOPIA OF FREEDOM

During my childhood days, Independence day always meant patriotic songs, pompous processions, humdrum speeches and delectable jalebis, all-in-all an eventful holiday to me. It was when I grew up a little that I started understanding the reason behind all these festivities. Independence day is a celebration of freedom, a reiteration of our rights and duties towards our great nation, I was told. As for rights and duties, they are clearly adumbrated in our constitution, it was the term ‘freedom’ which puzzled me quite a bit. What is freedom, I asked myself. Does this only mean that we can elect our own government who get to rule us, and not some foreign tyrants. Is it only symbolic or has an aspect to it which affects our day-to-day life? To which extent have we achieved freedom and how far do we have to further go?

Freedom is when we have the right to act, speak or think, when we’re not imprisoned or enslaved, the state of not being subjected to or affected by something undesirable. But is this all the freedom we’ve ever aspired for? Is this all we want as human beings?

On further contemplation, I realize that the essence of true freedom is the freedom of choice. When no one has to justify their choice or preferences to others as long as it lies within moral boundaries. It’s a society where a woman doesn’t get questioned if she wants to fulfil her career ambitions instead of ‘settling down’. Where a man doesn’t have to put up with scrutiny and interrogations like ‘’any issues??” if he wants to adopt a kid instead of having one.  

True freedom is when people supporting one end of a cause, don’t find the other side objectionable. When folks right wing or left wing, beef or no beef, Hindu or Muslim, can all live together in harmony without creating a hullabaloo out of dissent. Tolerance and sympathy are major constituents of this aspect of freedom.

True freedom promotes individual growth. It’s when all citizens get equal opportunities to evolve into their own spheres. Or, even break free from the sphere and pick a different trajectory if they want to. When no one is devoid of options. When a student isn’t discouraged to opt for pursuing liberal arts if that’s where his/her interest resides. It’s when the society and the nation lets a person be.

So, when we talk about freedom in truer sense, we still have a long way to go.

THE DREAM OF A FREE CITIZEN

The dream to tread on the free soil of their beloved motherland was a dream left unfulfilled for the countless named and unnamed martyrs of India’s freedom struggle. Long nights of intensive strategising, violent and non-violent protests, famous slogans like ‘Go back Simon’, ‘Quit India’, ‘Give me blood and I will give you freedom’, boycotts and satyagrahas, non-cooperation movements and Round Table Conferences finally gave way to the jubilation of independence. The epic speech of the first Prime Minister of independent India, Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru in the Parliament on the eve of India’s independence towards midnight, as the hour hand and the minute hand shook hands to welcome 15th August, 1947 began thus –

“Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially. At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom…..”

What a joyous moment it would have been for those involved in the freedom struggle to breathe the air of their free motherland!!

Today, as we celebrate the 71st Independence Day, we have indeed come a long way. The freedom to emphatically run across the length and breadth of this independent nation with one’s head held high has been long realised. The freedom to own property, the freedom to sow and to reap, the freedom to manufacture, the freedom to buy and sell – has put India among the mighty nations of the world.

From a shattered economy, today India finds its name resounding along with the topic economies of the world. From widespread illiteracy to a decent 74.04% (as in 2016) of literacy of a diverse population amidst various stigmas to education, is no less a feat. The development from crippled industries and roadways to world-class industrial establishments and posh highways, is yet another achievement worth celebrating. From the years of famine and agricultural disappointments to the era of Genetic Engineering and numerous Food Revolutions, the progress sure deserves applause. Speak of Science and Technology we have the likes of Mangalyaan and the Chandrayaan to boast of.

The India echoed in the national song is truly an India witnessed today by the present generations – ‘Sujalam suphalam malayaja sheetalam Shasyashyamalam’

“Yet the turning point is past, and history begins anew for us, the history which we shall live and act and others will write about. A new star rises, the star of freedom in the east, a new hope comes into being, a vision long cherished materializes.” – said Pt. Nehru in his speech to the nation seven decades ago. 

As the star of freedom rose, Indians celebrated the independence from foreign rule. No longer were they subjects under Dominion rule. No longer were their wings clipped down. No longer were sons and daughters required to be martyrs. It was the time of self-rule. With their loins girded, the intellectual think-tanks set to give to Indians the exclusive rights of citizenship. The new found freedom was indeed a prized possession earned with much sweat and blood.

“May the star never set and that hope never be betrayed by.” – remarked Jawaharlal Nehru in his address to the nation that significant night. 

The India of today, is a great example of unity in diversity. Diverse languages, religions and ethnicities have made India what it is.

But, the heart sinks as one witnesses the numerous threats to this hard-earned freedom!

The freedom that was reaped by a largely non-violent struggle is subject to vagaries of untold violence in the names of caste, sex, religion and ethnicity. The freedom of speech and expression provisioned by the Constitution has started being stifled to the extent of being silenced forever. The freedom to ‘profess, practice and preach’ the religion of one’s choice is being brought under the hammer with a heavy hand.

The unique blend that makes up India is under the threat of distortion in the pretext of Indianisation.

Social, economic and scientific development never happens overnight, and India is marching ahead in all these aspects. The future is indeed prosperous for this nation. No doubt about it!

But, what about the soul of India?

“We shall never allow that torch of freedom to be blown out, however high the wind or stormy the tempest.” said Nehru in his speech that night.

However, as the days go by it seems that the torch of freedom is on its way to being blown out – this time not by foreign rule, but by self-rule. The fetters that bind and the guns that shoot, the hatred that boils the blood and claims the lives of innocents, the hands that discriminate and strangle the underprivileged – belong to the high and mighty fellow citizens.

Was it for this type of a free nation that precious lives were sacrificed years ago? Where are the lofty ideals of:

JUSTICE, social, economic and political;

LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship;

EQUALITY of status and of opportunity; and to promote among them all

FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation

We have so developed a ‘chalta hai’ attitude for everything that happens around us that misgivings don’t seem to be misgivings any more. Corruption? It happens every where! Domestic violence? What’s new in that! Hatred for neighbouring countries? That’s how it has always been! Dominance of the upper caste? That’s the societal norm!

The soul screams – ‘When will man respect man as man?’

Till we have fixated identities of sex, caste, religion, ethnicity, language and economic status of the people living around us, our perception will never be free. The shackles of intolerance, ignorance and apathy need to be broken down so as to be replaced with tolerance, awareness and compassion.

Not that these fetters are unique to free India alone, but the heart-cry of an emancipated soul is to see one’s nation soar high and high way – above the rest – to see the tricolour fluttering high in the breezy sky. As Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore penned –

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
Where knowledge is free
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
By narrow domestic walls
Where words come out from the depth of truth
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit
Where the mind is led forward by thee
Into ever-widening thought and action
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.

Yes, into that heaven of freedom, let India awake.

Jai Hind.