There are few things in life so important, so dynamic, so invigorating as discussion. There needn't be agreement or acquiescence, or even subservience to another's viewpoint, only the spirit of good jousting and verbiage to complement the give and take.
Such it is that I find myself with a friend of over forty years when we partake of a healthy brew and chew each other's words and thoughts with earthy delight.
Freedom often comes to the fore as a topic representative of troubling times, but other such contentious terms as 'greed' and 'envy' provide hours of stimulating conversation. (Of course, the preferred 'brew' often leads to more animated and passionate debate). Never the less, freedom is a rather large term and can connote ambiguity or definitiveness based on one's point of view.
I propose freedom in a political, as well as, personal sense. To me, living without the ability to choose one's own path in life, be it profession, religion or deepest philosophy, leaves me cold. There have been points in my life where the idea of simple existence was enough to sustain me; those times no longer appeal. There's an old Chinese proverb--"may you live in interesting times"--that applies to where we are today. No doubt, there have always been 'interesting times', otherwise how would the Chinese have captured the unending drama representative of the declaration. But we do live in such times, a paradox buttressed by a lack of balance that would help us recognize our imperiled state.
My friend takes a more metaphysical view of life, perhaps tying freedom to the need for a more 'examined' existence. Since I'm more attached to the troubles of the day a metaphysical view is more difficult to discern in a contentious world. Freedom, to me, means to live a life as unencumbered as possible from the imposed duty of being my brother's keeper. Those who are forced to be compassionate provide neither compassion nor empathy, but a sense of resentment towards those who issue the forced directives. Governments are made to enforce those directives; the fewer the better. If the ideal is to 'live and let live', then a government must not inject itself into this ideal. A government's main objective must be to protect the ideal; to not plan obtrusive incursions into the lives of its' citizens. When governments do so, they change the dynamic of human interaction. They change the very basic functions that men live by; those functions being to interact, to contract with one another. There is the essence of freedom; the mutually beneficial arrangement that empowers both parties. When legislators insert rules and laws within this delicate balance the contract loses all meaning. There would then be that leviathan lurking behind constantly deciding if its' rules meet the standards set by the ruling elite. It isn't without some trepidation that I use the term 'elite', but those who impose rules where none may be required can only be considered 'elite'.
Anyway, we pass time arguing, cajoling, nad needling each other with good natured profanity on the whatever subject arouses our passions. It's time that I find well spent. The vigor and honesty of the joust is exhilerating. I only hope that there are more in America today who also enjoy this type of uplifting, personal drama. It can lead to an invaluable decision to embrace freedom and the many meanings that 'we the people' can ascribe to it. Perhaps my friend would agree.