The Meaning of Freedom


TheMeaning of Freedom

TheMeaning of Freedom

Accordingto the Merriam Webster dictionary, freedom is the state of being freefrom control or the right to move freely or act freely. Freedom maymean different things to different people and sometimes somecircumstances might define the word freedom. Freedom might not makesense to a person who has does not know any boundaries and just likeit is said, only the wearer of the shoe knows where it pinches. Inthis essay, the author will compare and contrast the meaning offreedom from five authors who are considered champions of freedom andare celebrated around the world for their works and efforts inachieving freedom for their people. The five authors are MartinLuther King, Nelson Mandela, Eleanor Roosevelt, Langston Hughes andHenry David Thoreau.

MartinLuther King is one of the most revered and celebrated AfricanAmericans. He is believed to have been the Moses of the blackcommunity since he worked tirelessly to free the black man from theshackles of racism. In this letter from Birmingham, Dr. King lamentsthat Negro are not free from the rule of law which the white man hadlaid down for them. In fact, he regrets that the white man is onlywilling to follow order but is not concerned about the justice inwhich the same law is found. According to Dr. King freedom was beingfree from segregation and being subjected to injustice by the whiteman. He especially feels bad that countries in Africa and Asia wereattaining their own independence yet a black man could not just getinto any café and enjoy his cup of coffee (King,1963).

NelsonMandela was the first South African President of African descent. Heis one of the most celebrated African leader of our modern generationdue to his works and efforts on freedom. Nelson Mandela spent 27years in jail while fighting for against apartheid. Towards the endof Nelson Mandela’s book, The Long Walk to Freedom, Mandelaexplains that he was born with a hunger to be free. He describes thatbeing a young lad, freedom was being able to move around and playaround his village, ride bulls and not to be troubled by anybody aslong as he obeyed his father. However, as he grew up he realized thathe was no longer free and that it has been taken away from him. Thishunger for freedom is what lead him to become a member of ANC andfight for not just his freedom but the freedom of other people whohad been oppressed like him. Soon after ascending to Presidency andbeing out of prison, Mandela realized that freedom is not limited tothe oppressed but also the man who takes away the freedom of others.In fact, he states that a man who takes the freedom of others is aprisoner of hatred. Towards the end, Mandela states that freedom is ajourney but not a destination as it as his book suggests a longwalk(Mandela,1995).

EleanorRoosevelt was a first lady in America and wife of President FredrickRoosevelt. Eleanor Roosevelt was the longest serving first lady inthe U.S as she President Franklin served a four year term in office.Eleanor is renowned for her involvement in politics but what made herstand out was her involvement in the United Nations which was formedin 1948. Eleanor delivered a speak in Paris, which she described asbeing the roots of human freedom, liberty and equality. Eleanor wasvery active in pressing the United States to join the United Nationsand was actively involved in the drafting of the universaldeclaration of human rights. Her speech in France, cemented herbelieve in the dignity of human beings and the equal rights of menand women regardless of their size of their nation.

LangstonHughes was an American poet and in his poem on Let America Be AmericaAgain, the poet seeks to address the subject of freedom by using thewords of the national anthem. In the poem, the poet hopes thatAmerica can regain its glory and become what it used to be the poet.The poet states that America was a land of dreams, love and liberty,where opportunities were real and life was free just like the air.The poet laments of the words used in the national anthem statingthat the nation is free while it has been free. This is because allpeople are not treated equally and therefore nobody is free includingthe poet himself.

Inhis book on civil disobedience, Henry Thoreau says that the best formof government is that which governs the least. Thoreau was makingthese remarks because he did not have any trust in his government asit abused its people. Henry Thoreau used resistance in an effort toacquire his own freedom to oppose the government in joining the armyand failing to pay taxes. According to Thoreau freedom is the rightto follow theirconscious rather than conformity to the position ofthe majority (Thoreau,1849).

Inmy opinion, being responsible citizen entails a lot of things justlike the five authors have mentioned being a citizen comes with a lotof responsibilities. One of the responsibilities includes to makingdecisions that are morally upright and not conforming to themajority. Secondly, it requires people to stand up when they realizewrong doings or injustices in the society.


King,M. L. (1963, April 16). &quotLetterfrom a Birmingham Jail [King, Jr.]&quot.Retrieved April 7, 2015, from University of Pennslyvania:

Mandela,N. (1995). TheLong Walk to Freedom.Pretoria.

Thoreau,H. D. (1849). CivilDisobedience.New York.