What is freedom?

As the restrictions imposed by Covid-19 drag on, I’m seeing more and more on social media from people who are convinced that this is all a nefarious plot to permanently rob us of our rights and freedoms. These are people who, like me, have lived privileged lives; people who have no idea what true lack of freedom looks or feels like.

The Guardian 2

photo: The Guardian

In 1991, when the Soviet Union collapsed and the iron curtain ceased to exist, Eastern Europeans jubilantly celebrated the freedom that they had long been denied. Sadly, however, some of the first “freedoms” to be exercised in these formerly communist countries were indulgence in pornography, prostitution, drugs, and organized crime. So what is freedom? According to many, it seems to be the right to do whatever I want, whenever I want, to whomever I want. How incredibly self-indulgent!

Freedom means many things to many people. It may mean having the opportunity to vote for the ideas, people, or parties that best represent our views. It may mean being able to freely express our ideas and opinions without fear of reprisal. To some it may mean being free of debt and having the financial wherewithal to buy whatever they want. To others it may simply mean being able to live without constant fear of violence or persecution.

Is being told to social distance or to wear a mask to enter certain businesses really robbing anyone of these rights and freedoms? Are temporary school closures and having to worship online instead of in person really endangering society as we know it? I hardly think so!

During the current pandemic, those of us who are willing to temporarily give up some of our freedoms for the good of the community and who dare to suggest that others ought to do the same run the risk of being labelled socialist. That’s an insult that’s commonly hurled about by those who fear that their freedoms are being forever taken from them. I pay it little mind, however, as they clearly aren’t political scientists!

The Bible has a lot to say about freedom. In fact, it’s one of the central themes of the entire Word. John 8:32 tells us that “the truth will set you free” and later, in John 14:6, Jesus says, “I am the way and the truth and the life.” True freedom is found in relationship with Him.

This freedom is both freedom from and freedom to. Freedom from the things of this world that enslave us: earthly desires for wealth, success, and status; jealousy and envy; lust and perversion; rivalry and hatred. Freedom to be everything that we were designed to be, to do what we were made to do, and to serve God by serving others. Galatians 5:13-14 sums it up this way, “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.'”

So how does this apply to Covid-19? Like true Biblical freedom, our political and social freedoms are also responsibilities. They don’t exist so that we can do whatever we want, whenever we want, to whomever we want. They exist for the good of the whole. Freedom provides opportunity and reason to serve whether by delivering groceries to doorsteps, making phone calls to ensure that neighbours and friends are faring well, sewing masks, or simply practicing social distancing and keeping our school and church doors closed until the threat of spreading the virus has lessened.

I don’t hide behind rose coloured glasses nor do I blindly believe that everything that our political leaders do is for our good, but I also don’t believe that Covid-19 is an evil plot to permanently rob us of our rights and freedoms!

National Post

photo: National Post

At least these ones are social distancing!


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