People's Stories Freedom

Fact file
Freedom is a fundamental human right. At its basic level, freedom means not being obstructed, controlled, forced or mastered by anyone else.
Freedom means being your own person, being free to express your own opinion, follow your own religious faith, choose who you will marry, whether to join a trade and labour association or not. It is closely linked with the ideals of individual autonomy and individual rights. Everyone chooses how to live their own life: yet everyone's exercise of their liberty must interfere with the liberty of everyone else.
An individual's 'freedom' is naturally modified when they choose to live in association with other people. We choose to give up some of our liberties and limit our options because we benefit from living together, having families, neighbours, and some structures and organisation.
Freedom has a political sense, too. Political freedom means that people have the right to participate in their community. The need for order does not take away our right to choose what freedoms to give up. This meaning is closely linked to political rights: to express opinions, make choices, and participate in decisions that affect us, especially if they are meant to advance the 'common good,' our community's interests.
This sense of freedom is linked with a fundamental principle: that it is the will of the people that makes any government legitimate (and without that will, tyrannical). We must choose who rules us, and how. Legitimate government is not divinely ordained, inherited, or snatched by force.
All governments in some ways limit their citizens' freedoms to think, travel, express opinions, some worse than others.
Some impose draconian censorship and other restrictions - imprisonment, or worse, for holding views unacceptable to the state or simply for withholding support for the government.
In a number of countries the right to rule is linked with religious fundamentalism. Some governments are led by religious leaders. This encourages those who are already powerful to believe that to challenge or disagree with them is not only disloyal, but blasphemous. These beliefs are inconsistent with democratic government. In other countries the legitimacy of secular government is constantly challenged, internally, by fundamentalists who wish to establish a religion-based government regime. These threats are serious challenges to the idea of the people's participation in their own government.
Freedom can also mean freedom from - want, coercion, or fear, for example. Can we really say that a poor, hungry, ill person, who owns no property, is truly free - given that their only choice is to work for others, or starve? That kind of 'freedom' is hardly worth having.
This sense of freedom is linked to the ideas of justice and equality. There is no point in liberty, unless it is equally available to all. There is no real freedom, if it can't be enjoyed.
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