Freedom and What We Do With It

Our chickens are finally out of their own lockdown today. They had to be confined to a covered run due to bird flu. So, as many of us have been locked down to a degree over the last months, our hens also did not have the freedom they are used to. They have very much enjoyed exploring old haunts again today and we have enjoyed watching them happily going about their business.

The chickens clearly knew exactly what to do with their newfound freedom – quickly going back to their old ways and old habits. But as humans, not all our habits are quite so healthy and wholesome. As we also get back freedoms that we have lacked over the last year, we need to think carefully about what freedom really means.

All too often, people seem to confuse ‘freedom from’ with ‘freedom to’. Freedom from is about basic human rights – freedom from oppression, from injustice… from discrimination. But ‘freedom to’ can be far more complex. We often may feel we have a ‘right’ to do something. But our ‘right’ to do something does not necessarily trump someone else’s rights. There is a hierarchy of rights which means we do not always have the right to do exactly as we please. Nor, even when we are not causing immediate harm, is it morally right to do so.

As our world opens back up again over the coming months, we need to think carefully about what freedom really means to us personally, and for the wider world. And when we have that freedom, we need to ask ourselves what we should do with it. Sadly, freedom is by no means universal. So while others lack it, around the world, it is particularly important that we use it wisely and with a care for our planet, and other people.

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