Freedom does not mean license, but the wisdom to choose what is right for oneself
‘Freedom’, be it from fellow humans, prevalent customs, way of life or society, is a word that symbolises man’s intrinsic nature and individuality. It is a feeling that has been experienced and expounded differently by different people: freedom- the ultimate goal of thousands of revolutions, the ideal that inflamed the minds of myriads of nameless, faceless people and their illustrious leaders. Battles for freedom everywhere are coeval with the beginning of hierarchy and civilisation. They are being fought all the time, albeit on different scales. And in all these struggles or movements, the definition of ‘freedom’ is almost always different. This is essentially so since freedom, being a psychological factor is not the same for different people. But, invariably, all these definitions have to undergo the test of time and the scrutiny of history. So, on one hand there are movements for freedom or liberty which have united people and on the other hand there are those movements which have succeeded only in tearing up the social fabric and leave the people high and dry. Thus, freedom is best defined by this time tested statement: “freedom does not mean license, but the wisdom to choose what is right for oneself.” So freedom can never be intrusive that it encroaches upon the rights of others. As Lincoln famously declared in 1859, “Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves”. There are two sides to every coin and just as rights are complemented by duties, freedom cannot come without responsibility and the wisdom to exercise it properly. George Bernard Shaw was, therefore, bang on target when he commented in his book ‘Man and Superman’, “The revolutionist’s hand book” that “Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it.” To be able to enjoy freedom, a person must also be willing to respect another’s claim to it. And those who consider freedom to be...
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