Just a suggested song you can listen to whilst reading this. I like it, it's cool (in my opinion)and you should, though, it's just as cool if you don't, because that's the power of freedom! A great many people think we live in a free world, that the country we live in is a free democracy, where we are able to say anything freely...and we are! We are absolutely free to do anything we are capable of any time BUT, and here's the thing, we are free to do them if we accept that there will be consequences to those actions.
See, I know you'll be thinking to yourself "well, if there's a consequence, then it's not really free, we're not really free to do that whatever example you can think of." Well, of course there's going to be a consequence, everything you do (or don't do) has a consequence. Imposed by either our culture, our families and friends or hell, even biologically. You're perfectly free to go punch a midget (or for that matter call them a midget in the first place, nowadays it's more PC to call them a dwarf...which etymologically, is even more of an insult, but hey...logic, whatevs right, who needs that?) but don't be surprised when you're hauled in for assaulting a person...or being ostracised by your friends for beating up something that is physically as small as a child. You are perfectly free to rant and rave outside abortion clinics that no woman should have the right to their own body, but you know, then you've got to accept that you'll be looked at as though you're the raving bag of distended scrotal rot that you so patently are.
My point is that you are free to do these things, or whatever else, but there will be a consequence to your actions. How is it that you are free then? Well, because one is one thing and the result is another. What is so often the case is that people mistake the "effect" part of cause and effect to mean the same as the cause, the initial action. The first part, the cause part is absolutely free. You can choose any cause you like, from anything in the world. You can influence it, plan it, devote all your time to it, direct it along the lines you want but you can't always see the future effect, the end result. The end of a thing is not where you can change it or the beginning.
A great example of this is gladiatorial combat....what, hear me out on this....I'm not just mentioning it because Gladiator was on the other night and it is such a great movie. No, I'm talking about cause and effect. The cause in this movie is Maximus deciding to fight. He's in a situation where he seemingly has no freedom. He is a slave, bought to fight for the amusement of others. But he chooses to fight. He could choose not to fight, and he'd have been put to death, but by choosing to fight he upsets the emperor and blah blah blah big Hollywood ending. The real point of that is the choice to fight. The effect or end result was that he would fight, or be put to death fighting, he was going to have to fight, so he chose to. Is that freedom? He made a conscious decision to perform an action one way and not the other, is that not what freedom is?
I like it when people know that they are in a bad situation, one they can't win, but still try. I think it's the truest expression of freedom in the whole world. There's something awe inspiring about people who find themselves backs against the wall, no apparent chance of making it out, no real hope or belief that change can be effected in their lifetime, but choose to fight...and then sometimes it worries me that people think democracy is an entitlement, not a reward. Entitlement only matters when it's taken away from you. Seriously, think about it. How many people do you know of (the younger generation especially) who actually care about elections? National or local. How many of them are aware of each political parties policies or stances? How many have considered actually running for a chair themselves? Did you hear that little voice in the back of your head saying "eugh, who'd want to be an MP, they're all corrupt, thieving bastards" or something similar? Of course you did, we all did. So then why, after believing that they're so dirty/corrupt do we not try and change that instead of abstaining or merely swapping one puppet for another? Because it's an entitlement, we don't really care so long as it's there. We are free to choose, and often do, the path of least resistance. If the right to vote was taken away today, would there be an uproar? Oh there would be so very many Orwellian references that we'd get bombarded with but then, at the end of it...would we be bothered because we lost an entitlement or because we lost a vote.
So, does freedom actually exist....I think it does, but perhaps not in the way people readily define it. I really do believe that at any time a person can do anything that they want (which is what the classic freedom generally is) but that they also have to accept that actions have consequences. There is a freedom there, but it certainly has a cost to it.