Why Is Freedom Important

Why is freedom so important to human beings?

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In order to live with other people, there are always tradeoffs between rights and responsibilities.  Our most precious right is freedom, because it is freedom that allows us to do whatever we want to do, but if we have complete freedom, it is inevitable that we will get in the way of the freedom of others.  So, unless someone lives in a cave, there is really no complete freedom for anyone.  To understand why freedom is so very important to people, it is a good idea to picture what a life without freedom would mean.  And there are many places in the world where people do live without freedom.

Imagine living in a country in which you could not decide what you want to be when you grow up.  You might want to be a teacher, but someone has decided you are going to be a farmer.  In what we call command economies, this is often the case.  The freedom to choose what we want to do for a living is quite important to most people. 

Imagine not having the freedom to marry whom you choose. In most western cultures, we have this freedom, but there are cultures where people do not. While there may be advantages to that lack of freedom, for example, far lower divorce rates, the fact is, this is an important aspect of our lives, and most of us want this freedom.

Now imagine not being able to choose what religion you want to be. Historically, and even now, this has happened.  Some people are told what religion they must be or they are killed. Our freedom to choose our religious beliefs or to choose to have no religious beliefs is a central tenet of our freedom.

Not having the freedom to say what we choose without the government stopping us is another kind of freedom to imagine not having.  There are countries in which people are imprisoned or even sentenced to death because they have criticized the government. 

These are major freedoms that we all wish for, but even on a smaller scale, we want our freedoms. We wish to choose what we will eat, choose what clothing we wish to wear, choose where we will live, and choose whom our friends will be.  We desire choice in entertainment, for example, movies, music, and television.  A life without these choices is really not a life.  Humans are designed to want to make choices, small and large, right or wrong, and choice is the essence of freedom. 

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