When a human being grows up, he gets more and more personal responsibility in his life. At the same time, with this responsibility, one also gains freedom.
It’s important to remember that we don’t live in a black and white world, otherwise, we wouldn’t be human beings. When someone learns to grow up, they’ll struggle with freedom and responsibility.
Freedom and Responsibility Go Hand in Hand
The key to growing up is to find a balance between freedom and responsibility.
The same is true for society. It’s true that we who live in democracies have the freedom to say what we want and live how we want. But there’s more to freedom than the freedom to choose the car you drive in, the house you live in, or the job you do.
With Freedom Comes Responsibility
Freedom is a fundamental human right and an essential component of human dignity. It’s the prerequisite for being able to do what you want, be who you want, choose what you want, and think what you want.
Freedom has two sides: the freedom to do something and the freedom not to do something. Both sides are important because together they give us the ability to choose how we want to live our lives.
Freedom of choice allows us to decide where to live, where to travel, where to work, who to marry, how many children to have (if any), and other decisions that affect our lives. We’re free to decide what educational or career path to pursue, and whether or not to attend a religious institution or engage in different faith practices.
Freedom from discrimination allows equal opportunities for all, regardless of race, gender, or sexual orientation; it ensures that there’s not one authorized culture for society; it promotes tolerance for different cultures and ethnicities among people who live in the same country but don’t share their cultural differences in lifestyle habits (e.g., eating meat versus vegetarianism).
Freedom and Responsibility
Freedom is a state in which you can do what you want, but not what you want without being able to do anything about it.
In liberal democracies, you exercise your freedom as long as others aren’t harmed and there are no government restrictions. If your actions harm others or violate laws, you can lose your freedom by going to jail. In this case, you can no longer do what you want for a certain period of time.
You can also think of it this way, freedom is a condition for you to be who you want to be, but not who you want to be in any context. If someone does something illegal because they think it will make them happy and give them fulfillment, then they’ve already lost their ability to make decisions for themselves because their decision would have been against the law. This means that in making that decision, they weren’t really exercising their freedom because they were prevented from doing so by an external factor (the law).
What Responsibility and Freedom Owe Each Other
You owe everyone the right to be free. You owe everyone the right to be responsible for their own actions. You owe everyone the right to be free from outside forces when you make decisions for your human life.
We’re all human beings, and that means we should all have basic rights and freedoms – rights that allow us to make choices and be free from outside forces that would interfere with those choices.
The only way for humans to live as independent thinkers (rather than, say, robots) is through our ability to make choices. Once someone else starts making decisions on your behalf, they’ve taken away your freedom of choice.
Taking Freedom for Granted
Freedom is a precious commodity that many people have fought for over the years. It shouldn’t be taken for granted, because there are still people in this world who’re not free.
We enjoy freedom in many ways: we can go where we want, we can say what we want to say, and do what we want to do. These things may seem basic, but they aren’t guaranteed for everyone.
The Danger of Lack of Responsibility
A leader who doesn’t take social responsibility can put his people in danger.
For example, if you’re employed by a company, the company is responsible for your job and its performance.
If your job is eliminated, the person responsible for that decision should be prepared to answer some important questions about why the job was eliminated and what steps are being taken to ensure that the people left behind are treated fairly and respectfully.
After all, if an executive director or other leader makes bad decisions without being held accountable, those decisions could impact those who depend on their paychecks.
The Limits of Political Freedom and Accountability in a Dictatorship.
In a dictatorship, the dictator can do whatever he or she wants.
Members of the military can ignore the human rights of the citizens who oppose the government. Citizens aren’t free to speak out against their leader. But no one bears accountability for their actions.
Responsibility, then, can only exist in a society where intellectual freedom reigns and vice versa.
A society without these two qualities will be in chaos, since people will act only out of self-interest, regardless of whether or not this behavior harms others (which is usually the case).
The Limits of True Freedom and Responsibility in Liberal Democracies
The idea that human freedom and collective responsibility go hand in hand may be common sense. If one has freedom, surely one should be responsible for how one uses it? However, we must weigh what’s reasonable.
We know from the history of human nature that uncontrolled personal freedom can lead to anarchy and thus to the destruction of society. For example, laws were enacted against unpunished crimes, not only for the sake of the victim but also for the sake of the perpetrator, who could become a habitual offender if not sanctioned.
Similarly, freedoms are restricted to protect other people and groups such as children, communities, and even governments.
In Western societies, there are laws restricting free speech to prevent racial slurs or incitement to violence against others and to protect children from obscene material; laws prohibiting polygamy protect women from exploitation; Laws mandating vaccinations protect individuals from disease and society by curbing its spread; laws requiring people to vote or pay taxes serve the public good by ensuring that citizens participate in decision making or contribute financially to the government services they use.
In liberal democracies, restrictions on freedoms are necessary to ensure that individuals exercise their freedoms responsibly and to promote peace, order, and good governance in society, and policymakers have a civic duty and a great responsibility to ensure that some people’s freedom doesn’t restrict another’s individual freedom.
A democratic society cannot be perfect unless everyone respects their own moral obligation, but that doesn’t seem to be in our human nature.
Examples of Civil Liberties in Democratic Societies
- Freedom of Speech. In a democracy, people should be able to have the human right of free expression. This protects democratic decision-making by ensuring that everyone can express their opinions without censorship. It also helps keep our governments accountable and prevents them from becoming too powerful and controlling. However, as mentioned earlier, there’s a line that mustn’t be crossed.
- Individual liberty of choice. In democracies, people choose who’ll represent them in parliament. Anyone who’s reached a certain age can have a say in who’s elected (this right is called suffrage). The people who’re elected by the citizens form the government and make decisions on their behalf.
- Freedom of Assembly. People have the right to peacefully assemble in groups, such as political parties or unions, to advocate for change or to influence the decisions of their government.
- Liberty of association. This means that people can join with others to form groups that represent their interests, such as religious organizations, political parties, and labor unions.
- Equality before the law. This means that all people have access to justice without discrimination and that every citizen can expect similar treatment before the law if he or she offends someone or files a complaint.
Difference Between Legal Freedom and Moral Freedom
Whether you’re an individual or a business, we all want to be free. In a country like the United States, there are two types of freedom: legal and moral.
- Legal freedom means you can do whatever you want within the limits of the law. It’s also called “negative” freedom because a person is only free if he or she’s not prevented from doing so by others.
- Moral freedom is the ability to do what you want without violating your own moral code or that of your religious upbringing. It’s also called “positive” freedom because a person must say yes before acting.
The difference between legal and moral freedom may seem trivial at first glance, but there are important differences between them. In the U.S. or the United Kingdom, for example, it’s perfectly legal for an adult man to marry an adult woman or vice versa. However, it might be against a person’s religious beliefs to marry someone of the same sex; therefore, it wouldn’t be morally permissible for him or her to do so.
The Same Applies to Responsibility
Legal responsibility and moral responsibility are two different things. Legal responsibility means that you’re legally obligated to do something or to refrain from doing something.
For example, if you sign a contract that requires you to perform a service for another party, you’re legally obligated to perform the task. If the contract in question says that you cannot disclose certain information about the other party, you have a legal responsibility not to disclose that information.
Moral responsibility, on the other hand, is when you feel that you have a moral obligation to do or not do something. For example, if you feel that it’s morally wrong to cheat on your spouse and take action to avoid doing so, then you have a moral responsibility not to cheat on your spouse.
In Order for Us to Be Responsible for Our Own Actions, We Must Be Free From External Forces; However, With That Free Will Comes Responsibility
Many people think that free will and responsibility are two different things. In fact, however, they’re connected. In order for us to take responsibility for our lives, we must also have a sense of freedom.
We live in a world where individual freedom and individual responsibility are often seen as opposites. Our liberty is restricted when we have a responsibility, and our responsibility restricts our freedoms. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
We could instead see freedom and responsibility as something that’s connected. To see how let’s ask ourselves a question: what would it mean to be free? The dictionary definition of “freedom” is “the power or right to act, speak, or think as one pleases.” In other words, it means that you’re able to act without interference from others.
Now let’s ask ourselves a similar question: what would it mean for you to be responsible?
According to the dictionary, responsibility is “the state or fact of having the duty to take care of something, or of having control over someone.” A simple way we could define individual responsibility is as a moral obligation.
In order for us to have an individual responsibility in our human life, we must also have a certain amount of individual liberty, because it’s important for us to have control over ourselves – therefore freedom and responsibility go hand in hand.
Related: Why Freedom Is Important