The two levels of freedom

Freedom is a right. But it is also a responsibility.


The first level is “freedom from.”

This is the freedom that we often aspire to have. We want to be free “from” something. We want to be free from discrimination, from social injustice, or, at least, from corporate slavery.

We want freedom from other people’s control, from habits that strangle us, or even from sin that shackles us.

But then, what’s next? After you acquire that kind of freedom, what will you do next?

The problem with the first level of freedom is that, once we have it, we often do not know how to use it, let alone responsibly.

The abuse of this level of freedom can even diminish the freedom of others and even our own.

Take freedom of speech for example. In many countries today, including our own, we are fortunate to have freedom of speech. We are free to voice out our ideas, our concerns, our principles, our ideals, and our beliefs.

But sometimes, we abuse our freedom of speech by bashing, trolling, and spreading hate against those whose beliefs and ideals are different from ours. We abuse our freedom of speech by restricting the freedom of others, by silencing them.

The deeper level of freedom is “freedom for.”

Freedom “for” something is what gives our freedom purpose. It completes our freedom. And with the right purpose, we can properly and responsibly use our freedom, not only for our own benefit, but also for others’.

Why do you want to be free? For what good will you use your freedom? For whom do you want to be free?

If you use your freedom of speech “for” justice, for equality, for self-giving love, for the truth, or for God, your freedom has purpose. It not only allows you to express your beliefs, it also empowers and encourages others.

Freedom is a right. But it is also a responsibility.

Do you want to be free from something? Be free for something.

Man is rational and therefore like God; he is created with free will and is master over his acts. (St. Irenaeus)

The more one does what is good, the freer one becomes. There is no true freedom except in the service of what is good and just. The choice to disobey and do evil is an abuse of freedom and leads to “the slavery of sin.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church Paragraph No. 1733)

For freedom Christ set us free. (Galatians 5:1)

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