Is Freedom Hope or a Rope?
I believe that freedom is the absence of fear. When people are asked to define freedom, it is often said, “Freedom is the liberty to say what I want,” or “Freedom is to go wherever I want to go.” In my opinion, those statements are examples of having permission from someone or from the laws of the country, but not actual freedom. To comprehend the concept of freedom, we need to determine if we limit our actions due to fear of what other people may do about it, or what they may think afterwards.
First, you can think of freedom of speech as having the liberty to voice your opinions, which is a reality in a lot of democratic countries, but at the same time you might feel limited by the fear of being left out by friends or family who have different opinions, or even fear that someone is going to physically attack you for stating your thoughts. Is that real freedom? Being told that your opinion matters, but never saying it because you worry about being attacked back? What is the value of freedom compared to the value of your moral and physical integrity?
Second, you can say that freedom of movement, the action of going places just because you want to, is a reality where you live and is something guaranteed to every citizen, but what can happen to people when they use this freedom? To women, there is the fear of being assaulted or raped. To people of color, the fear of being mistaken as a criminal and getting killed. To kids, the fear of being kidnapped. To immigrants, the fear of xenophobia. To LGBT+ people, the fear of homophobia. After all these examples, can we firmly say that everybody is free to go any place? They may be permitted by law to do that but have to face the prejudice of society towards them and hope they will make it home safely.
In conclusion, freedom, to me, is not only the fact that you can say what you believe or that you are able to walk anywhere you want to. Freedom is safety to live your life without hurting other people; it is being able to keep your daily routine without fearing that you will not come back home at the end of the day. As an immigrant woman who identifies herself with other labels, I dream of the day that humans can live in harmony, even though it sounds impossible at this moment.