Another Kind of Freedom

Another Kind of Freedom: The Gift of Self Restraint

A narcissistic culture that focuses only on personal entitlement can never endure or be a mature expression of our values.

A renaissance that moves us towards Interdependence requires a re-examination of both neo- conservative and neo – liberal ideas of freedom to include and encompass the gift of self-restraint.

In the context of the Commons (taken in the widest sense to include all our freedoms that arise out of our shared or common ‘wealth’), self restraint is an act of generosity that is needed to protect the inheritance we benefit from in the present and in order to pass it on to future gener


This redefines the concept of freedom and moves it beyond ideas of ‘Freedom From’ and ‘Freedom To’, to encompass a higher freedom that is a freely chosen integrative gesture of generosity, responsibility and Love, namely ‘The Freedom Not To’.

When we stop short of exercising our freedoms to the very fullest extent of our entitlement, we move towards each other rather than away and protect our shared heritage of the Commons. This is something that within families, parents have to do everyday and encourage their children in learning. This is absolutely not about undisciplined discipline. It does not mean negating our own or our child’s inherent gifts, individuality and essence. It is simply about balancing individual and collective rights and responsibilities. Cultures that focus only on individualism or collectivism are unsustainable. In any situation that involves our common freedoms or our common wealth…

The Gift of Self Restraint is the guarantor of all our freedoms and our common wealth. It balances our claim to human rights with the duty of our human responsibilities.

In other words it is a foundation stone for a unifying narrative of a grown up culture and politics in which we become narrators with the power of choice to nurture both the Human Family and the miraculous legacy of our Common Wealth rather than remaining as minor characters in our own smaller personal stories.

The beginnings of a broad based culture of personal honour, generosity and responsibility within which a renewed moral imagination can arise is already available to us but it needs crystalizing into a form acceptable to many. It will somehow have to include the shadow side of our humanity and enable the Authority of Love, Justice, Redemption and Forgiveness to come together to create a restoration of moral life.

Such a task is personal and political. It is not moralistic, self-righteous, precious or exclusive or intended to make us feel good about ourselves whilst separating us from others.

Yet another righteous tribalism is the last thing we need.

It requires nothing less than rebuilding a consensus about what constitutes ‘Right Authority’.

Our model for this may be simplistic perhaps, but it is one that most people know. It is the Family – the supportive family which although not all of us have been fortunate to experience it, nonetheless offers a familiar metaphor for the Human Family. Belonging to any family brings rights and responsibilities to protect each other and the shared resources that serve our own and future generations.

Copyright © New Harmony 2011

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