“Raise a glass to freedom,
Something they can never take away.”
Lin-Manuel Miranda (“The Story of Tonight” from “Hamilton”)
I wanted to start this post, by saying that I find this quote crucial in our day and time. But I have to admit, I am wrong. This quote points to something that always is important. Freedom was, is an always will be fundamental.
After reading the quote for the first time, I liked it. I haven’t heard it before, so I gave it some more thinking and came to the conclusion that I disagree with part of it.
The first part is right. First of all, I’m all in for raising my glass. And even more so when its for something as good and as important as freedom.
I was born and lived the first years of my life in the Former Soviet Union. Not a place you’d think of when it comes to freedom. Luckily for me we moved to Germany many years ago. I don’t remember much about the life in the Former Soviet Union. I was in kindergarden and pretty young when we moved.
But even knowing how life was from stories and anicdotes, I understand that I can count myself lucky to have been born, when I was, to the parents and the place; and being able to move to Germany. Here, in my opinion, I have plenty of freedom.
I disagree with the second part of the quote.
I don’t believe that freedom is something that can not be taken away. We can look at history and see how freedom was taken away over and over from different groups of people. Usually minorities. They are given rights and /or freedom and then it is taken away.
I believe that even nowadays it is true. Whether we are talking about views people have on the rights of others or seemigly small things like wearing a mask. Giving people the freedom to simply exist and be alive and not persecuted because of their skin-colour, sexual orientation, religion or anything else, doesn’t change the other person’s life in any way. It doesn’t force them to change anything about their daily life really.
The freedom of the individual ends where the freedom of the other begins.Immanuel Kant
I spend half of yesterday looking for this quote in English. I found it in German right away and similiar quotes in English, but nothing by Immanuel Kant, so I translated it myself. Why did I spend so much time looking for it? Because it fits perfectly.
The German philosopher Immanuel Kant said this smart thing. What it means is that my personal freedom goes as far as it gets in the way of another person’s freedom.
Because otherwise I would be imposing my freedom onto his and that would make the orther person’s freedom smaller and take away from it. The example of the mask is perfect here. I have the freedom to wear a mask or not to wear one. But my freedom ends when I am putting other people at risk, by not wearing one.
It also means that I sometimes have to give away a little bit from my freedom, for other people.
Now, if everyone would act that way, we all would be considerate and thoughtful. If only….
When we look at the world, freedom is still something that can be takes away from us. But if we speak up, think about more than just ourselves, and care, we can stand up for freedom and then it can not be taken away!