Freedom Is Free, Actually

“… freedom isn’t secured by filling up on your heart’s desire but by removing your desire.”


You know those bumper stickers and shirts that say “Freedom ain’t free”? Those really chafe me. From where I’m standing, freedom is always free, by definition.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not knocking the sacrifice that others have made to secure our protection from tyrants and dictators around the world. I’m eternally grateful for that.

But the soldiers and patriots didn’t create the freedom. The freedom itself always existed, independently of anyone’s desires or efforts — and it’s not earned or deserved in any way, it’s inherent and a human right. Everyone around the world deserves freedom, and it shouldn’t cost anything.

So yes, some people feel the need to fight for freedom (or to glorify that fight, anyway). But others who just accept that they’re free by default — they’re no less correct. Because freedom, like all good things, comes from within. It’s not bestowed upon you as a privilege, because it comes from your heart.

Now, how to ensure that inner freedom? It doesn’t come from getting everything you ever wanted, as Epictetus states above in today’s entry in The Daily Stoic. It doesn’t come from achieving your goals or reaching your ultimate potential.

Freedom comes instead from reducing your wants. It comes from being happy with what you have, rather than always desiring more. That liberation you seek comes from peace of mind, and from understanding that it is the unsated lust for more that causes your pain and unhappiness.

You’re already free. It costs nothing. You simply have to grab it.

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