Today, I am going to talk about three overarching principles: responsibility, freedom, and responsible freedom.
Let us begin with the first principle. Responsibility is defined by Oxford Dictionaries as the opportunity or ability to act independently and take decisions without authorization. To put that simply, this definition can be divided into two root-words: response and ability.
Making a coherent simple definition of the word, responsibility NOW will mean OUR ABILITY TO RESPOND. Responsibility lies in our ability and capacity to act. Responsibility is to do something without being told but simply because we can and because we are ABLE.
When confronted with confusion whether to ACT or NOT, we ask ourselves, “AM I RESPONSIBLE?” So whenever we ask ourselves this question of responsibility, let us remember the root words: RESPONSE+ABLE.
If until now you are asking, “Am I responsible for my parents?” or “Am I responsible for the poor in my community?” or “Am I responsible for my classmate with a failing grade?” My simple answer to that is: are you response-able? If you are, then you must be held responsible for them.
Now let’s take my second point. You might be familiar with this: “The cry of Balintawak. And the echoes answered back – Freedom!”
From the earliest conception of the term, freedom has been a debatable topic. Nations cry for freedom from the tyranny of the oppressors. The people of the Philippines, for example, cried for freedom against its many colonizers in the past. And we won.
But freedom is not only winning our national liberty. There is more to freedom than the absence of foreign domination and enslavement. Freedom is also personal.
Freedom is the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants (Oxford Dictionaries Online). So to say, when one is not hindered to do as he wants, he is free.
When free folks want to go shopping, swimming, or hiking, they can do so. When someone wants to go to the church or any place of worship, he is free to go and exercise his religion. If someone wants to remain silent, he is free to do so – that is his right; such is his freedom. Moreover, when people want to express their opinions, they can gather together and let their voices be heard.
Following this line of thinking, one can even spread gossip and false information about his enemies. One can slap the person next to her if she gets irritated. Or steal someone’s belongings whenever he feels like doing it. Such is freedom, isn’t it? But oops! That seems to be erroneous and it brings me to my next point – the relativity and partiality of freedom.
Freedom is not absolute. As Herbert Spencer said, “every man has the freedom to do all that he wills, provided he infringes not the equal freedom of any other man.” This is tantamount to saying that the limitation of our freedom is the equal freedom of our fellowmen. In a simple adage, it means that “our freedom ends when someone else’s freedom begins.”
This brings us to the realization that whenever we exercise our freedom, we always have to consider its implications to others. This relates to our responsibility as caretakers of our brethren.
Putting this into context, one is free to cheat in an examination, but is that responsible? All are free to defame others, but is that responsible? One is free to steal, to hastily judge, to kill, and to commit adultery – but none of those is responsible.
It is right, therefore, to conclude that responsible freedom is directed towards our welfare and the well-being of our fellow men. We are free to do anything good, and just, and beautiful for ourselves and for others.
Exercise your freedom by doing what is good and just. Do something good and beautiful not because you were forced to do so, but because you have the ability to do so. Help, not because it is your obligation but because you are free and able to reach out.
Respond because you are able. Respond because you are free!
My wish for you today is to become responsible for the freedom you all have. Thank you and good day!