Freedom – A Condition of the Human Heart

freedom_heartKingsley L. Dennis | Guest Writer for Waking Times

Loving freedom, to me, means having the freedom to love yourself deeply, others deeply, and accepting the never-ending truth of change. It means having the freedom to be happy on your own and happy with others as they come in and out of our lives. It means having the freedom to connect wonderfully with those you meet and deal successfully with those who are difficult to relate to well.” – Owen Fitzpatrick


In my previous ‘Reflections’ article (Toward Synthesis), I noted how the humanistic philosopher Erich Fromm viewed the modern world as suffering from the  contradictory struggle between having and being. The human need to find meaning, well-being, and personal growth was in conflict with a different type of world external to us. For Fromm, the resolution of this conflict was to be found in ‘a radical change of the human heart.’ For me, the issue of personal well-being revolves around the perception and experience of freedom. The ability to recognize, and internalize, well-being is fundamentally linked to how a person experiences their freedom.

Freedom is not simply a condition linked to battlefields, nations, and human rights. On an essential level it concerns the freedom within the self, and our battle to maintain this personal freedom within our everyday life. Erich Fromm himself wrote much on our human fear of freedom[i]. Fromm concluded that our in-born fear of pursuing freedom against social conditioning originates in our human birth process. The helplessness of the newly born child and the need for extra long dependency upon protection continues into adulthood in our need for human security. Fromm views our susceptibility to social conditioning as thus based upon a biological predisposition. This can perhaps explain why we often reach out to an outside authority (parent, teacher, partner/lover) as a power or force to recompense us for a sense of personal isolation. Modern society has exploited this tendency by approving and supporting our dependency upon external social systems. In the same way, our cultures often disapprove of those individuals that show high levels of self-reliance and independence. In a world moving toward greater connectedness, collaboration, and shared compassion, the presence of personal freedom is critical. For too long we have been focused upon the play of freedom as it is exhibited outside of us – by external powers – whilst blinded to the inner restraints of personal freedom. For me, freedom is nothing if it is not a freedom of the heart.

We often talk about freedom, or hear other people talk about it, in terms of having. In this way it becomes a value of possession. We either have it or we don’t; other people have it, or manipulate it, or control it, etc. In our modern understanding of freedom we have turned it into a commodity – a material object that we bargain with. In many situations and for many people this has been true. Also, if a person has been kidnapped, or held in prison/confinement, then freedom becomes a very real physical reality. Yet this is just one manifestation of the essence of human freedom. For my purposes I wish to discuss freedom as a state of being.

On an interior level freedom is not about what we have; it is more about where we are and what we do. It is about having the right attitude and perspective. In this context freedom is a process: we need freedom from something or freedom to something. We don’t have or possess freedom – we do freedom. It is important we create a freedom to move into, otherwise where are we going? We can create our freedom from the past – and even the present – if we wish to move toward a different place or state of being. For example, our past should not define how we wish our present to be. We can learn from it, and develop from its experience; yet if it is no longer useful, or even detrimental, then we need to learn how to leave it behind. We all have this choice of where we wantTo Be.

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  1. indichas@outlook.com' Chas says:

    “Do you want to be really happy? You can start by being appreciative of who you are and what you’ve got.”‘The Tao of Pooh’, Benjamin Hoff.

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