“Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth.” -John F. Kennedy
Freedom is not absolute. It transcends the serenity of peace but limits the evil of sin. It infiltrates the bondage of fear but restrains the tendency of destruction. Nonetheless, thinkers alike cannot give a specific definition of this abstraction. Thus, people are confused about it, let alone abuse it. The application of the word, however, is not subject to any preference but to the truth of its nature.
Anyone will feel disappointed if some will imprison others for the sake of someone’s freedom. It is very unlikely that children will suffer just to hide the incapability of others to maintain peace and order. Putting young ones in a cage while others are freely enjoying the outside world is depriving them to breathe the air of a free country. Is the Philippines free in the first place? I believe it is. But how if someday, they will also need to imprison you or me for the sake of someone’s freedom? Is the government giving us another definition of freedom or are they offering us something that will redefine the word? I am afraid that someday I will wake up one morning and see our nation darkened with the clouds of political and ecclesiastical imperialism.
Respect for other’s belief is embraced and accepted by all, even by the writer himself, but how can someone guard the truth in the midst of a treacherous acceptance? A forceful way of converting others like suicide bombings and religious leader assassination must really be condemned, but how about the sharp deadly thrust of manipulative speeches and writings? Most spectators could not discern that easily but the spiritually inclined ones can.
Sir Thomas Browne asserted, “Scholars are men of peace; they bear no arms, but their tongues are sharper than a sword; their pens carry further and give a louder report than thunder. I had rather stand in the shock of a basilisk than in the fury of a merciless pen.” A conquering eagle, Napoleon I, also utters, “There are only two powers in the world, the sword and the pen; and in the end, the former is always conquered by the latter.”
The great battle then is raging in papers, books, media, streets, pulpits, social media, and anywhere you can find people using their voices, pens, and keyboards. The freedom of the press, of speech, and of expression are really needed and should be seen in a free country. Hence, limiting the freedom to speak through a law of “hate speech” should be reconsidered. “Tongues are sharper than sword” and a pen could be “merciless” but it can free souls from mental and spiritual imprisonment. To add, however, immature gatherings made out of naiveté is not plausible at all. Nonetheless, religious insult should not be given the chance to take the opportunity. With that, what is insulting and what is favorable, what is hateful and what is acceptable must be subject to a certain standard depending, however, on what kind of measurement someone uses.
Freedom is enjoyed by individuals who are free to think, free to speak, and free to live. It is limited when someone’s name is trodden down, when a single life or the society as a whole is endangered, and when someone’s soul is at stake in a single step to hell. Let’s continue to hope and pray that freedom will continue to reign in the whole archipelago through the illuminating power of the truth, mercy, peace, and love.