This I Believe
I believe in freedom. I believe in internal freedom, the personal freedom that can never be taken away unless it is surrendered. I believe in freedom in its most basic form, in its raw selfish ideal. Freedom in its raw selfish ideal is the ability to be free within myself, within the confines of my own mind and body, requiring nothing externally. I have been lucky. My own freedom has never been tested or attacked. But I hold my conviction of freedom so strongly because I see people around me every day who have never experienced freedom. For these people, freedom is synonymous to liberty. Liberty is the external and selfless manifestation of freedom. Liberty is what I enjoy as an American. Liberty is what allows me to say and do what I want. Liberty is the ability I have to walk to a corner store and buy a soda, or take a plane and visit my relatives in Venezuela.
I have traveled to Venezuela for many years in the winter break. Throughout these trips, I have seen a steadily decline of liberty in Venezuela. I have experienced what martial law does to my relatives in Venezuela. I have seen soldiers with MP-3 and AK-47 holding checkpoints arbitrarily at key city entrance and exit points. As I see these, I can only take comfort when I think that my family can hold to their freedom while their liberty is slowly disappearing. I hope that my uncles, aunts, cousins, and grandparents are able to internalize freedom and learn to believe in it as strongly as I do. Here in the United States, I experience liberty every day and every minute of my life. In this country, I have learned to think for myself, and to believe what I want to believe.
But liberty is not freedom. Liberty is the vessel that contains it. But unlike freedom, my liberty can be taken away at any time. Freedom can not be taken away, it has to be surrendered. Freedom is inspired, while liberty is granted. Freedom is a personal and internal feeling while liberty is an external state of affairs, a condition of the environment.
I believe in freedom because it is selfish, because it is mine and mine alone, because it can never be taken away from me without my permission. I believe that my personal and internal freedom allows me to be less afraid of my future, it allows me to be more confident because no matter what may or may not happen, I always have the capacity to be free. This I believe.
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