Do we need freedom? To what extent do we need it?

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

People certainly do not need freedom.  In order for us to need something, we must be unable to live without it.  People need food and water.  People in most climates need shelter and clothing.  Outside of these things, there is very little that we truly need.  Freedom is not one of the things that we truly need.

We can tell that people do not literally need freedom because millions (at least) of people have lived their lives with little or no freedom.  The African American slaves in the American South before the Civil War are perhaps the best example of this.  These people had little to no freedom and yet they were able to survive.  They were even able to increase their population through natural means (meaning that they did not have to rely on an influx of newly imported slaves to increase their population).  We can also think about people in places like Cuba or North Korea or areas of Afghanistan controlled by the Taliban.  These people all have much less freedom than we do and yet they are able to live.  Clearly, we do not truly need freedom.

However, I would argue that we need freedom in order to be truly happy. You might say that people who have no freedom exist, but do not truly live.  They cannot be complete human beings because they do not get to make choices for themselves and they do not get to be masters of their own destiny in any significant way.  To me, this means that we do need freedom in a sense.  I believe that human adults are meant to be able to make choices for themselves and to be, in very important ways, their own bosses.  When people do not have freedom, they are unable to be fully human in this way.  Therefore, you can argue that we do not need freedom in order to exist, but we do need freedom in order to be truly human.