Many clamor for "Freedom". Freedom to do and be whatever we desire. How many of us are truly prepared to handle Freedom? Do we know that with Freedom, when the consequences of actions manifest, we must accept full responsibility? No fingers to point at anyone but our own reflection.
One of the hallmarks of being a teenager is fighting for the freedom to make decisions. Teenagers feel they are able to make informed, responsible decisions, much to the disagreement of parents. Parents often are of the opinion that lack of experience, foresight and even the impetus for the decisions by the teenager may have disastrous consequences. This family dynamic is usually influenced by socio-economic background and cultural norms. As much as each incident of caregiver/teenager antagonism will reveal shortcomings from either party, this relationship is one of supervisor-supervisee. Under-aged persons (under-aged determined by the law of the land) have limited freedom to make independent choices. This dynamic is therefore not included in this discourse. An adult, age defined by law, cannot be considered a supervisee in the family dynamic (though this sometimes happen), but he or she is also "supervised" by the laws of the land and the various societal institutions. When does one have complete Freedom?
In recent times, two existing laws in Jamaica have been vigorously targeted for repeal: the Anti-buggery Law and law prohibiting the free and open use of Marijuana. Men want to be granted the freedom to decide to be sexually intimate with another man, without fear of criminalization. Persons believe that a repeal of this law is directly addressing basic Human Right and personal freedom. Rastafarians and other interest groups believe that the acclaimed ill effects of Marijuana are untrue or its benefits far outweigh the negative consequences. Legalizing the use of Marijuana for personal and economical advantages are the main reasons for the appeal to repeal. As a personal choice, individuals want the freedom to use this "alleged drug" for personal enjoyment or a part of a religious ritual. The Freedom to choose and to be fully responsible for individual consequences is the ultimate goals.
Freedom demands full personal responsibility. The individuals declare much like the teenager, "I want to make my own decisions about this issue and I am prepared to take full responsibility for all that manifests as a result of my choice". This is a profound statement of sovereignty and I for one fully endorse such statements. However, are we really ready for what we ask for? How many instances have come our way to exercise existing freedoms yet we flee the other direction? Do we prefer the comfort of having someone else make decisions on our behalf? Are we even aware that we defer decisions to others, claiming we "had no other choice"?
Case in point: You have an existing employment contract which lists your duties and goals. Over the years, you realize that your tasks have increased by at least 50%. Though there is the proverbial trap clause "... And any other duties that may be assigned..." you are very disgruntled by the overbearing work without a concurrent increase in salary or any tangible rewards. This situation is untenable you say to family and friends and you should just "walk off" the job. Why not go? Are you not free to do so? With due diligence executed, you can leave at the appointed time and be rid of this horrible situation. Alas! You "need" the money, too many people depend on you and it would be "irresponsible" for you to leave that job. Certainly, you may opt to find another before leaving but what guarantee is there that you will not encounter the same issues? Much like the teenager, you feel trapped, restricted and force to make decisions against your true leanings. Poor you!
I unapologetically declare that very few people understand what true Freedom is. I myself have only just begun understanding the concept. To me, Freedom requires complete Trust. Freedom is operating and living in the Knowledge that no harm will come to you when a heart-felt, mind-inspected and spirit-determined decision is made. Freedom appears selfish to the unschooled: trusting that decisions for self can only have positive effects for the people in your world may seem "self centered". Freedom is a spiritual experience, Freedom is a gift from the Divine to be used to love and honour one's true, authentic self and to respect the sovereignty of others. It is therefore something that comes with tremendous responsibility.
I humbly suggest that while we fight for freedoms we believe are due to us, we should practice receiving and living the freedoms already granted. It will require courage, trust and a willingness to be one's authentic self at all times. This may seem difficult but it will be well worth it!
Photo Credit To Cardboiled
Editor-in-Chief's Note: Tina Simone is an Editorial Contributor with MNI Alive