Freedom, it’s an interesting thing. Its existence has been valued for as long as humans have been around to have the concept of it. However, the value of it seems to fluctuate, or at least the value placed on it. Society will put much more value on it in times of war and difficulty, yet over time slowly seem to forget it over a couple of decades until something reminds them of it.

    All of this being said, the actual value of freedom doesn’t actually change. It has an inherent value that for its own sake is worth fighting for. Yet just how we never value water as much as when we’re stuck in the middle of a desert, freedom too is something we only truly value when we’re deprived of it.

    If the value we place on freedom changes from generation to generation it begs the questions of what it means to be free. Many answers may be; that it’s a lack of bondage, independence from others, or having no restrictions or limitations. Many of these are accurate and correct, however, many of these fail to encompass the whole picture. They’re true, yes, but they aren’t the full spirit of freedom. The spirit of freedom and what it means is a combination of all of them.

    Freedom is not only being free from bondage and slavery, it isn’t just not living in fear for your safety, it isn’t just being able to make choices, it’s also about being able to progress. Being able to fail and yet get back up and continue onwards. This is what makes a society free, this is what makes a country free.

    If a country does not allow for someone to fail and get back up then it won’t truly be free. Simply put, it will be deteriorating, sure it might not have immediate results but just like rotting, you might not always be able to see it when it first but it will deteriorate all the same and the results will all come to pass.

    What are these results you might ask? The results are that progress is halted, both economically, socially, and in technology. Edison said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Now imagine if he wasn’t able to fail and then get back up again. How much progress would have been made? None. The technology he worked on wouldn’t have been made and others wouldn’t have further developed it.

    The same applies to us all in other aspects. If we say something wrong and can never recover from it, how many people will still decide to say something? Not many and those that do won’t be able to sustain it. Without that, is there really free speech? There might be legally but there won’t be in practice.

    This is the other aspect of freedom many don’t grasp. You need to be free, not just according to the law and the government, but also in society. This is what has made America free and what continues to make it free, not just the laws protecting freedom, but the American ideals that forged them. From the first president, George Washington’s time in office to Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address to Martin Luther King Jr’s I have a dream speech. These are what have built true freedom in America, allowing everyone to fail and rise up again. This is what freedom truly means, not just having laws to protect it, but having the ideals that made them as well.