Day #459:Thoughts on Freedom

Today is the Nigerian holiday celebrating Independence and separation from the British Empire. The essence of the holiday is the celebration of freedom in all its forms, though most Nigerians will think of it as 54 years of failed experiment in self governance.

I think about freedom a lot, because it’s central to expression. The ability to leverage one’s voice in pursuit of an outcome, whether in our personal lives , the business world, or elsewhere.

However, when taken for granted, freedom grows sour. It can begin to feel cheap. It becomes “my right to have my way trumps yours” rather than taking its rightful place as the guide rails for meaningful exchange and mutual respect.

Freedom is a responsibility. Viktor Frankl wrote that liberty and responsibility are two sides of the same coin. Freedom spent solely in the pursuit of your own lifestyle, marking wins on your personal scorecard, or making your life a little more comfortable is wasted. This is not to imply that you and I should not enjoy the benefits of our freedom, but only that if we choose to accept the benefits we must also accept the accompanying responsibilities.

Freedom is an anomaly. It’s easy to forget that the kind of political and personal freedoms we experience today are not normal. Compare your level of mobility, financial discretion, and occupational freedom to all of humanity that has come before you. You and I sit at the peak of the peak of the peak of all that have come before. Even the ability to choose an occupation was unheard of until the last few hundred years of history. Will future generations judge us as the peak of freedom, after which everything went down hill, or will we choose to spend our freedom in the service of others?

Use your freedom wisely, cherish it deeply, never take it for granted

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