The evolution of the meanings of liberty in the society

The common notion of liberty today has been linked to the connotation of being free – freedom from dictators telling what the people should do and should not do, freedom from responsibilities, and alleviation of any restrictions we are suffering before. Liberty has always been related to the mitigation of certain laws and restrictions that bind us to do things that we desire. This is exists either as punishment or as a responsibility. Some perceptions of liberty are those which enable us to do something, or give us access to certain things that we were not able to access before.

This is a manifestation of how varied people’s views of liberty are, wherein this also created a delineation of liberty, as either positive, or the “freedom to... ” and negative liberty which is about being “free from…” This various meanings arise depending on the situation or timeline one lives in. Therefore, the meaning of liberty has been twisted and redefined over the course of history. It is an interpersonal, social idea which arose from the people and their relationship with others. Liberty means being treated as a fellow person by another man, not just his servant or worker.

This acknowledgement means that the person is being treated as an equal, not as anyone higher or lower than them. Liberty doesn’t mean you are moving away from a certain group instead, liberty is a feature of connection, not of isolation or exclusion. Liberty doesn’t entail isolating oneself from the others, but rather being able to connect with various people, like socializing and promoting interpersonal relationships from various people, because when there is no freedom with isolation. One is not free to do or say anything not unless he chooses to do so by himself.

Different meanings were conceived for the concept of liberty, and there is no proof on which meaning is true or not. But with these meanings, there is no clear meaning that is established; it doesn’t necessarily mean it is about freedom, or whatever it would imply on the people. The certain instance when liberty becomes meaningful is when the people are liberated, which they are able to do anything that we desire freely. But doing this still has a limitation. Our freedom stops when we are overlapping or stepping on some other’s freedom.

That is the time when liberty makes sense, when we know our limitations, when we know that a certain level of exercising our freedom would intervene in someone else’s liberty, not unless our actions could re-enforce other people’s liberty. But the harsh reality of liberty is that it only exists on people of the same footing, between equal human beings. In the case of inequality, it introduces a hierarchal position, thus putting a person above another person, thus implying superiority over the other. Inequality leads to slavery and other forms of undermining other people.

That is why liberty only exists or is exercised freely in a society of equals. But equality is not the only grounds to determine liberty; the society dictates on what these grounds are. Before, back when people are engaged in slave trade, the notion of liberty was being able to alleviate oneself from one’s master, since one is a servant, it is expected to serve the person in higher stature – the master. Slavery has robbed the ethnic societies of their people. They are being transported to other parts of the world, primarily in the western side, the Europeans.

They are alienated from their own homes, forced to work in the lands of the white people, and their notion of liberty was going back to the lives they ones had, back in their homeland, where they lived freely, away from the bonds that these white people have imposed on them. Liberty at that time was an aspiration for the slaves, for slavery was the great oppressing force at that time. When wars came to occur, there was great unrest. People from other nations were moving to conquer other lands, extending their influence, showing the world the power they possess.

After colonizing, their colonies were subjected to foreign rule, laws wherein they are not accustomed to, and these are being imposed on them strictly, whether the people like it or not. At this point of time, Liberty is more of about freedom from the influence of other ideologies or customaries. When people are imposing something, like a certain rule or law on other people, it is a manifestation of their subjugation, thus trampling down the Liberty that exists for the people in the country that the invading nations have conquered.

Liberty has been the cause of wars, of uprisings from these colonies, in order to fight for what they believe is right. Another instance was in the times of civil wars, when people desired liberty from the harsh rules or unpleasant dispositions of their current leader. This causes people to form groups or factions and do undesirable things. These uprisings are said to be fighting for liberty, which in this case was being autonomous from the grasps of a cruel leader. Looking closely, the aspect of liberty in these situations was of a larger scale as compared to that of slavery.

Slavery’s focus was alleviating your personal situation as a slave, or the liberty from the bonds of a master and slave. While these wars and uprisings is liberty on a larger scale - on a national level wherein you wish to liberate the whole country or region itself from the bonds it has on the parent or colonizing country, wherein you demand for a better quality of life, no that of which you have now. In our present situation, we are also experiencing a certain liberty. Liberty now is expressed as freedom – freedom to do whatever you want, depending on your rights as a human being, provided that you don’t step on the rights of other people.

Liberty now has different forms, depending on the person addressing it. It could include the way you dress, the way you speak, how you look, your choice of religion, and so much more. It is a clear manifestation that what was being fought for before was now achieved, yet liberty is still being used, but in a different context. Liberty now express freedom of the person, or even a institution, like for example, the journalists are free to write about topics which they deem essential for the people to hear or see, which is simply the freedom of the press.

Liberty means exercising these things to the fullest, and not doing so means you are being treated unfairly. Conclusion Indeed, liberty has been twisted to the course of history, polished by slave trades and wars, and even the various trends in fashion of the present day. It all depends on how people perceive it. Liberty was flexible enough to adapt to changing circumstances that is why it is still a predominant factor of our society today. Liberty doesn’t only mean being free to do something, but it is also freely doing something but you are also concerned with other people’s liberties.


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