In chapter 5, Offred remembers these words from Aunt Lydia: "There is more than one kind of freedom, said Aunt Lydia. Freedom to and freedom from. In the days of anarchy, it was freedom to. Now you are being given freedom from. Don't underrate it." How might you relate this idea of different freedoms to our own world? Are most of our laws and social systems about giving freedom to or from? Which is better for a healthy, functioning society, and why?

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U.S. society places a high value on individualism. Likewise, our economic system places a high level of faith in the efficiency of markets to self regulate with a minimum of government interference. Both of these trends have led in recent decades to an emphasis on "freedom to" for both individuals and businesses to do what they want as far as possible, while our society still strives to keep coherent social and economic structures in place. Examples of "freedom to" laws are no-fault divorce, abortion, and gay marriage freedoms as well as broad access to gun ownership. In the economic arena, "freedom to" thinking has led to a rollback on many financial regulations.

However, our society also has many examples of the "freedom from" legislation Aunt Lydia is talking about. For example, environmental laws ban many toxins from being dumped into the air or water, giving us freedom from the fear of being poisoned.

"Freedom to" laws are probably the best way to keep a society open and invigorated, but, as Aunt Lydia notes, they often come with a price. No-fault divorce, for example, makes marriage less secure, and broad access to guns brings with it the risk of mass shootings. Therefore, all societies also need "freedom from" laws to safeguard the public and keep society stable.

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