On Freedom & Responsibility

Two heavily misinterpreted concepts which we have been normally seen as contradictory one with another. Freedom to our minds is the lack and denial of responsibility and free people are irresponsible, we envy them and despise them at the same time for reminding us what we don’t have. On the other hand when someone is responsible he can not possible be free. Responsibility has come to represent the shackles society places on us. With age the responsibilities rise and freedom diminishes. What a crap !!! Freedom is not the opposite of responsibility. First of all lets clarify the meaning of responsibility which where the key misconception lies. Responsibility as the word actually says is the ability to respond rather than a heavy load that we are convinced we must carry because of some obligation we have to our children, family, parents, friends, boss, society. We have that ability to respond and we are free to exercise that ability how we may wish, no matter of what our families, bosses or society may think is proper. Anyway if we cripple our freedom because of an external must, we jeopardize our ability to respond effectively. Conversely our exercise of that ability to respond make us feel free of any bounds.

The recognition of the suffering of the human condition and the recognition that we are not necessarily bound to it if we choose not to, brings a sense of joy and relief. The deeper the suffering is felt, the more freedom for joy and love it generates. Thats the compassion that Buddhism is talking about and explains the 4 “noble truths”

  1. Life means suffering. 2. The origin of suffering is attachment.
  2. The cessation of suffering is attainable. 4. The path to the cessation of suffering.

Although Buddhism describes reality and the option of liberation from its slavery, the key is not embracing or rejecting this message. The key revolves around responsibility , the ability and honesty to see things as closely to what they are and then make conscious choices and live with those choices and their consequences . Recognizing what suits us and accepting these consequences brings peace, eliminates or diminishes denial and brings a sense of freedom  and joy about ones choices. These choices dont have to be perfect, not even the “right” ones, they just have to be honest and conscious in order to free one from the reaction to their undesired side effects because these side effects have been factored in as part of the choices.

But in order to view the issue from a more fundamental perspective we have to reflect on whether our fundamental right as human beings is our freedom or our responsibility. A simple question: Are we free or are we responsible? Our answer to that question determines our particular life view and the way life is going to unfold for each of us.

Connecting this issue with the upbringing of children, If we want children to be responsible, we must give them the freedom to exercise their ability to respond to life and confront the consequences of those responses, guide them a little but let them make  mistakes and learn from them. If they don’t feel free they will never be responsible.

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