[From Meghan (A Temple of Words) - I am reblogging this because, as usual, he makes perfect sense - and does so very eloquently. I wish more people thought the way he does.]
The above 'quote' is a typical cliché expression you might here thrown around on the internet, used in debates or typically used as some kind of pointed 'finishing comment' to justify your actions. In a democratic society such as Australia (and I believe much of this stands true for America or Europe also) I am blessed to live with freedom. Certainly freedom of speech is not exactly a part of our legal system like some nations, yet I can say what I want and generally not fear blatant censorship. Society in general, however, might not like what I have to say.
However, there is a kind of arrogance that has come - as shown by this expression used in my title - with the concept of freedom. Some individuals have come to believe that freedom entitles them to say whatever they want and whatever they feel and do whatever they want or feel within the limits of the law. "I can get away with it," they justify to themselves, "it's not illegal. You're not my mother or my conscience so just shut up about my choices." Or so the internal and external dialogues of such individuals could run.
I believe we all to some extent treat our freedoms like this. Why else would I be making such grand sweeping comments unless I felt I had the freedom to do such a thing? Yet the point I want to make is that: yes, you may have the freedom to act in a particular manner or do certain things and so if you choose to use your freedom in that particular way, don't be offended if I use my freedom in the same way.
Let me use an example of belief systems. We all have them and some are more blatant than others. My belief system is a Christian system, one adapted to my particular understanding of my faith and my journey through life. As a belief system it informs my views about many issues and my particular moral or ethical stances. Because of my beliefs I feel led to use my freedoms to inform others about what I believe about particular issues. And often this is frowned upon by individuals who believe that my beliefs are good and all for me alone. However, without realising it, such individuals often feel perfectly at home telling me about their belief systems - it is simply that their beliefs are less formulated into one particular word like 'Christianity' and might take pieces of 'socialism', 'capitalism' or 'nihilism' and blend them into some kind of solution to questions.
I write this not to offend anyone who has a belief system constructed out of their own solutions to issues. To an extent we all deconstruct the ideas and world around us even if we fit under the umbrella of a particular ideological name. The point is that there is an often unnoticed irony in how many people can subtly state or suggest that I cannot have the freedom to talk or share about particular ideas or views while sharing their own anyway. My point is that when it comes to freedom, if we do such things then we are not truly allowing freedom. Freedom of belief and about sharing belief must be universal in nature to be true freedom. I cannot say to the Buddhist or the Muslim that they cannot tell me what they believe and yet I can tell them what I believe. That is not freedom. I could however tell them that they cannot tell me what to believe if I do the same for them.
The point of all this is that if you are going to make statements like 'I can do what I want' then that is all fine. But don't be offended if what I want to do stands in direct contradiction to what you want to do. After all: it is a free country and I can do whatever I want to do.