The Essence Of Freedom

Is freedom just another word for nothing left to lose? No, this is not the essence of freedom.
I took this line from a song of Janis Joplin, and it was one of my favorites. But later I struggled many years to liberate myself from the thought expressed by this song. Why?

Ability to Say No is Important
This song of Janis reduces the meaning of freedom to one aspect only: The ability to say no. But in truth, freedom is something else: It is the ability to make a choice. This means that you can do something, if you decide so, or you can leave it. Freedom means that you have the ability to determine the course of your live. Freedom is self determination.
If you have nothing, you are not free. If the essence of freedom is the ability to determine the course of your life, then you must have resources to be free. If you have nothing, and somebody offers you food, you must say yes to survive. And, having nothing, you must say no to many opportunities life has to offer because you cannot afford it. If you have nothing, you cannot help others. And if you have nothing, you cannot choose what to learn.

Master Your Things and Social Status
Janis Joplin misses the essence of freedom, when she said “nothing left to lose.” I do not say that anybody should be a slave of things, or of status. It is mostly status, talk of other people about somebody or something, and fear of that, what enslaves us. If we have useless things, we tend to forget them. Useless items will waste our resources, and slow us down, but they will not be able to control our mindset.

Fear Makes Slaves
Fear of gossip surely has the potential to kill off our ambition and make us say yes where we should say no. In postwar Germany, where I grew up, there were plenty of people who should have said no. And there was even more pressure on others, not to speak up and tell the upcoming generation what really happened. So, nothing left to lose said for me merely: “Do not provide others any leverage to force you to do anything.” This has some truth in itself, but it also smells like lost opportunity. It defines the essence of freedom in negative terms.

Positive Approach to Freedom
Let’s try it the positive way. If the essence of freedom means to have choices in life, and to choose what is right for me, how do I get there? This is not a trivial question, but one thing is sure: It involves learning. To identify the right choice, you need to anticipate the possible results. After making a choice, which means in this context setting a goal, you must learn how to reach there. This is done most effectively by looking for people who have done the same thing before. If you study them carefully, you will be able to follow their way.

Internet as a Game Changer
The beauty of the internet is that you can meet there people, who have achieved all kind of things. And many of them are more than willing to share, how they did it. Some provide {openx:29} Others offer and programs showing you how they reached the degree of freedom they have achieved. They help you to learn their trade and show their tools. Iif you have access to the internet, you can certainly reach such people.

Accept Your Responsibility
But this puts the blame squarely on yourself, if you allow yourself still to pose as a victim. Make the right choice, decide to grow. Determination to grow is the final essence of freedom. This determination will not remove the consequences of past mistakes immediately. But it can improve life faster and more profoundly than you can imagine. Wake up! Every journey starts with a single step.