Freedom to Live, Freedom to Believe, Freedom to Express

“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 it limits the evil of sin. It infiltrates the bondage of fear, but it 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, specifically in the freedom of expression.

freedom of expression for free peopleAnyone will feel disappointed if someone imprisons 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 beliefs is embraced and accepted by all, even by the writer himself, but how can someone guard the truth amid treacherous acceptance of lies? A forceful way of converting others, like suicide bombings and religious leader assassinations, must be condemned, but how about the sharp and 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. Freedom of expression, of the press, of speech, and of religion should be present and protected in a free country. Hence, limiting the freedom to speak through a law of “hate speech” should be reconsidered. “Tongues are sharper than the sword” and a pen could be “merciless,” but it can free souls from mental, intellectual, and spiritual imprisonment. To add, however, rebellious gatherings made out of naiveté is not plausible at all. Nonetheless, religious insult should not be given the chance to take the opportunity to trample freedom. 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, such as the Bill of Rights, the Holy Bible, or the human thought.

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, especially the freedom of expression, will continue to reign in the whole archipelago through the illuminating power of the truth, mercy, peace, and love.

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JP Abecilla

JP Abecilla is a lifestyle Filipino blogger, freelance content writer, copy editor, and motivational speaker based in Cebu City, Philippines. He was awarded Blog of the Year 2020 (2nd Place) and Best Cebu Events Blog of 2019. More than writing, JP loves drinking a cup of coffee and eating donuts while reading a book or magazine.

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