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Individual Freedom

Script of "Individual Freedom" on the DC Treybil Youtube Channel

The terms freedom and liberty are commonly used interchangeably.

Herein, each term is distinguished from the other.

Liberty is used herein to refer to personal choices which are permitted, tolerated, or observed generally in a region. Further discussion of liberty will be taken up another video.

Individual freedom is used herein to refer to an aspect of individual human nature.


Individual freedom is an irrevocable degree of latitude in attitude and action.
The phrase degree of latitude connotes two separate things:

To more clearly express these two connotations, I want to use an illustration:

At first glance, this illustration appears so simple that it hardly merits anyone's attention.

After all, the illustration only has 3 elements:

First, I would like you to mentally add the word "individual" to the word "freedom". After all, can a Planet be free? The motions of planets seem to be governed by unbreakable, inescapable laws of Newtonian Physics. A planet has no say in its course. A planet has no latitude.

How about a tree - can a tree be free? Or maybe a butterfly - the topic of a popular 70's tune.

It is my position that human individuals possess a capacity to make choices. Given the same situation, two different people might make a different choice. Human individuals have a say in what they do in any given situation. Each of us has the ability to decide what action to take. Also, (sometimes after counting to ten) each person has some ability to decide how to feel in any given situation.

That ability, that capacity, is individual freedom.

The full extent of that latitude lies within the circle. The limit of that latitude is represented by the line used to draw the circle. Individual latitude in their action(s) or attitude(s) does not extend outside the line used to draw the circle.

So if human abilities lie within the circle and do not extend beyond the circle, what might be outside the circle?

Consider the following illustration:

Again, I would ask you to mentally add the word "Individual" to the word "Freedom" inside the circle.

To the extent that each of us possesses a degree of control (some might say "choice") in our own actions and attitudes, we are each "Captains of our ship and master of our soul." To that extent, each of us possesses freedom.

But even that influence upon our own actions is not absolute. It can be rather mild in fact.

And the actions of others lie outside that sphere of direct influence.

Certainly, those who signed the Declaration of Independence had no say in the response of King George III!

If the King was opposed to them and his actions were beyond their control - there was no need to call upon him any further. Their petitions to the king having failed, the only other thing beyond their power they called upon in the Declaration was "the source of divine providence". They expressed the intent to proceed with a firm reliance upon divine providence.

Suffice it to say at this point the signers of the Declaration were well aware of the extent and limit of their power, their freedom.

Moving right along . . .

Consider one more illustration:

A circle is used to represent individual freedom as was done before.

Just one more time, mentally preface the word "freedom" with the word "individual".

A dashed line has been drawn horizontally across the circle.

The two halves of the circle on opposite sides of that dashed line are action and attitude, respectively.

I drew the line horizontally because at first it seemed to me that attitude was higher somehow than action.

When I thought of it later, it occurred to me that action and attitude could be seen as co-equals. In that case, drawing the line vertically would have made more sense.

So if the dashed line might just as well be vertical as horizontal, then why not some oblique angle between those two? And if so, slanted left? Or slanted to the right maybe?

All that being said, does the dashed line have to pass through the center of the circle, dividing it exactly in half? What if between action and attitude one is seen as being greater or lesser than the other? Of course, the line can divided the circle into uneven parts if that better suits your notion of the relative weights due these two terms.

So you can play with these aspects of the illustration to your heart's content, and I will have no objection whatsoever.

Concerning the point of the dashed line however, on that detail I might be more insistent that the reader maintain that as drawn.

At first, attitude and action might appear totally separate and distinct. After some reflection, I began to see that this is almost certainly not true. An action has definite effects, both upon the doer and progress toward the intended result. The action can be seen as it occurs and its effects easily joined to it. Attitude, while not as clearly seen, if at all, however can be "proven" by its effects. Thought (hopefully) precedes action. Attitude affects both thought and action. This is most clearly seen upon inner reflection, although occasionally, it is unmistakably observed in the actions of others.

Attitude, like the wind, cannot be seen directly. But the rustling of the leaves proves that the wind is real - as real as the leaves it rustles. Likewise, the effects of attitude are just as real as the effects of action.

Because of this, I cannot see fit to draw a solid line between the two.

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