Friday, July 26, 2013

Freedom and Ethics

Needless to say, freedom is not only a most treasured reality in the realm of persons as individuals but also a much appreciated factor in their dimensions as constituents of society. Emancipation, liberty, autonomy effective and affirmative of self-determination – this is freedom in essence and import when understood in the context of individual persons. Independence, autonomy, sovereignty – these are the conditions linked to freedom in the context of people as constituents of society. In both said contexts, freedom is a greatly sought and much appreciated feature of human standing and a precious element of human dignity.

To act or not to act based exclusively on one’s own option or preference, to do something or abstain from doing anything purely according to one’s own desire or pleasure, to behave one way or another simply premised on one’s own personal interest or concerns – this is categorically and definitely not freedom but simply license or plain egoistic self-serving stance. It is individuals with such mentality and disposition that usually become dangerous persons to others and big liabilities to society. They are the ones who disregard ethics, who have no morals and who wherefore become social liabilities or even dangerous members thereof.

Question: What then is freedom? Answer: To think what is proper, to say what is true, and to do what is right and proper in line with ethical standards and moral norms – this is freedom. To seek and promote the good not only of oneself but also for the benefit of others, to pursue and advance one’s welfare as well as that of others such as his family, his community and/or his country – this is freedom. In other words, no one is really free to do what is wrong or evil – but free only to act according to the imperatives of truth, justice, and peace as forwarded by reason, as defined by ethics and mandated by morals.

Yes, freedom is neither for the irresponsible, the depraved, the criminal minded, nor for the vicious, the malevolent, the barbarian, much less for the immoral, the amoral. Yes, freedom is premised on responsibility and accountability. And yes, freedom is rooted in knowledge and sanity – considering that the ignorant and the insane are not capable of thinking in the light of reason and acting with free will.

“Good is to be done. Evil is to be avoided.” It is in this commonly known plain dictum that freedom is anchored. Anything and everything else with ethical relevance and moral significance are but direct or indirect derivatives of the said elementary maxim. In fact, if it is terrible to be a slave, neither is it cozy to be free.