The 23rd of January of this year may have felt like any other day for you. And it probably was like any other day, if it was not for it's special name tag - World Freedom Day. Being originally celebrated in Taiwan and South Korea as a memorial day, marking the return of some 22,000 ex-communist war prisoners of the Korean War in the 1950s to Taiwan, people all around the world still remember the 23rd of January as the starting point for the establishment of a World League for Freedom and Democracy that back in the days had the intention to fight the expansion of communism worldwide. No matter how connected we personally feel to this historic event and the circumstances at that time, we all have the chance to pay tribute to this day and take the opportunity to hold in for a minute and reflect on what freedom means to us and the people around us.
The reality is that freedom is an ambiguous word that continues to be contested. It is not unlikely that the question of what freedom really means, will leave us with more questions than answers - like any other important question in life. However, considering the fact that still only few people regard themselves to be truly free, we should pick up the debate on freedom over and over again. Freedom as it is generally perceived in today's society tends to have a political and economic connotation. People may consider themselves as free when living in a jurisdiction that is not underlying any military or economic occupation. Moreover, criteria such as personal safety and absolute freedom of speech express true political freedom. However, the existence of these expressions of freedom is highly challenged around the globe by suppressing states and governments. In financial terms, the general opinion in today's widespread capitalism is that money equals freedom. From a capitalist point of view, only those who have access to rich financial resources can enjoy what freedom really means. All others depend on selling their labor power in order to grant them access to a restricted amount of opportunities. However, how much of all these superfluous goods and services that surround us should we actually desire to possess? Isn't most of what we desire just covering up some kind of emptiness in our lives instead of filling it with experience that seems to be so much more rewarding for our true happiness and well-being?
Beyond all the political, economic and social influences that tend to narrow our perception of freedom, it is our mind that determines if we actually feel free and how much we desire a certain state of freedom. Not each and every one on this planet may have the privilege to enjoy a system that allows them to act freely – the voice of people is still getting suppressed by political systems worldwide; governments still take economic decisions at the expense of vast majorities of the population; people remain in poverty without any promise for change - however, each and every one of us has the potential to act for freedom, for ourselves and for others. Any of these acts for freedom will be motivated from within ourselves and ultimately rely on our state of mind and how we decide to feed it. By unplugging from controversial messages we consume and the social conventions that limit our actions, we will be able to focus on what truly matters to us and constructively direct all our power and energy in a direction that we consider to be right.
This may all sound very extreme but in fact it is not. Like most things we would consider good, freedom would not come as an extremity but as something moderate. Freedom will not only give us the choice but ultimately also the right to do what we believe is right, even sometimes at the expense of our own wants. Combining our privileges of some degree of economic, political and financial freedom with our freedom of mind, we have the power to help the less privileged people to follow their desire for freedom that exists in their minds and achieve more freedom in any perspective. Freedom is manifold and there are a hundred ways to go and promote more freedom worldwide. It starts with giving hope and creating perspectives for others that desire the kind of freedom we may already have. Freedom should not be a desire, it should be reality!