Degrees of Freedom

Adrita Chakraborty 

She sat there, submerged in her thoughts. It had been two hours since she had
come back from the protest. But her mind lay there. She was trying to fathom what
could have brought upon this fate for the 27-year-old journalist.
They say freedom of speech and expression is a constitutional right. At times she
fails to see the authenticity of this statement. Rather, what she witnesses around her
compels her to question the sanctity of this so-called freedom.
Freedom seems more like an air bubble - it explodes when the pressure inside it
increases beyond a limit. And with this explosion a million lives fall apart. The
explosion is so deafening that it leaves people numb, yet it is not strong enough to
prevent the next bubble from forming.
Probably, we take this freedom too lightly, turning a blind eye to the catch it comes
with. It is as if it comes with a Terms and Conditions clause that all of us fail to read
at the outset, only to realize its impact at the end.
Because if it weren't this, then what else could explain the brutal killing of this
journalist who was just exercising her constitutional right of freedom of speech.
What else could explain the nationwide killings of activists, journalists, students,
and dozens of other people who are doing nothing other than exercising this
Growing up, she had often heard the statement, "Freedom comes with its own
responsibilities". So, what are these responsibilities? And why are they so evasive
that we fail to understand them. Are these responsibilities the license we have to
pay for speaking our mind?
When we look around, we see that the concept of freedom has a different meaning
for all. And so, the responsibilities that each person’s freedom comes with are
different. For some, it means living a life devoid of fear and anxiety. For some, it
means being able to lead a life without dependencies, without constraints. And for
some, it might just mean being able to wear an outfit of their choice or go out of
their without answering any questions. But can freedom ever be completely
absolute, without that thin line drawing a boundary between freedom and chaos?!
All these thoughts consumed her, filling her with doubt and clouding her mind. Was
it the journalist’s fault that she was not watchful of the level of freedom she was
allowed? The other day, she had read an article about a girl being molested in a
pub. Obviously, this was followed with comments about her inappropriate dressing,
her choice to be in a pub, and many more generalizations about her character.
Probably, this girl was not aware of how much freedom she was allowed and what
responsibilities she had in return. When her uncle doesn’t allow his post graduate
wife to work outside, he is reminding her of the level of freedom she has.
Looking at the setting sun outside her window, another thought struck her. Even the
sun doesn’t have absolute freedom to act as per his will. He is bound to rise in the
east and set in the west. His freedom is also bounded by certain guidelines. So, if
nature also can’t enjoy absolute freedom, how can we humans? If our bodies acted
of their own will, disobeying the functions they are supposed to carry out, won’t that
be devastating?!So, it might seem that absolute freedom, without any boundaries
or limitations can be catastrophic. After all, nothing in excess is good. But who
decides these boundaries? Who is supreme enough to govern the level of freedom
we all can enjoy? Surely, it can’t be someone who curbs someone else’s freedom to
enhance their freedom. It seemed that the only degree of absolute freedom we all
could enjoy was to safeguard our freedom from being captured by someone else.

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