Freedom: Often a misunderstood word

Freedom: Often a misunderstood word
Freedom which inheres in an individual is not without limits. - Image for illustration purposes only
To live freely is indeed all men's desire.

Like that of a liberated spirit of Ariel in Shakespeare's The Tempest, from the service of his master, Prospero, the former upon years of a much hoped for uplifting of the curse by the latter began his life in free liberty wandering uncontrolled in the air like a bird under green trees, amongst juicy fruits, and sweet-smelling flowers.

As much as Ariel was deep in gratitude for the joy of his newfound freedom, he was nevertheless constantly reminded of the piercing agony of which a witch called Sycorax had ruthlessly put him through leading him to centuries of banishment to an enchanted faraway island until Prospero came to his eventual sweet and meaningful rescue.

This had had him in check all the time to ensure no revocation of his liberty.

Freedom for Ariel, as it is for all of us, while earned fairly and deservedly, must be accorded to others fairly and deservedly too.

Freedom which inheres in an individual is not without limits. It does not at all imply absolute right to commit any untrammeled acts in the name of such right.

It is apt in the circumstance that we be reminded of the old adage, “your liberty ends where my nose begins”.

The concept of freedom, as pleasant as the word may sound, has a very strong yet dangerous tendency of being misinterpreted or worse, misused often at the disadvantage of the person exercising it if he allows himself carelessly to resort to the exercise of such freedom without regard to or realisation of the affect person’s freedom to live without reasonable and legitimate fear.
One’s right to speak freely for instance must be juxtaposed carefully with another’s equal right to a peaceful state of mind free from any unwarranted accusations capable of dragging his reputation in the eyes of the right-thinking society into disrepute, be it verbally or in writing.

We are not infrequently enticed by the irresistible urge to unleash our otherwise suppressed anger or ill thinking towards someone over a particular issue which has since invoked our displeasure through an emotionally charged display of written ranting on social media.

Oftentimes our rash decision such as this is actuated and then further driven by the personal need to mobilise a stream of virtual support in our burning pursuit to make known of our express and unequivocal condemnation towards an intended person whom we doggedly declare as our adversary.

With foul language employed, aspersions cast, wisdom thrown out of the window, and hostility writ large, it is no wonder that immaturity will take reign and that years of perfecting self-control will lose to infantilism just because of our itching fingers to type out expletives in our aim to secure a short-lived satisfaction.

Unbeknownst to us, the ensuing ramifications can be far-reaching that one can wish to bear upon his shoulders. 

Individuals so affected by the atrocity of our irresponsible action, who correspondingly have every right not to slandered, may elect to initiate a legal proceeding against us for the purported remarks we have made which in the former’s opinion are defamatory in law.

Bereft of solid evidence to prove the contrary on our part, an aggrieved party will have an option to further seek to keep us tightly encased in court with a severely circuitous legal procedure to adhere to which once begun will appear considerably difficult to step out of.

Other suits on the ground of persistent harassment in tort may result too should our act be deemed in the eyes of law upon determination by the judge at the conclusion of the proceedings to have been proven legally as a misdeed and that it must be monetarily compensated against the said aggrieved party depending on the magnanimity of damages we have so occasioned therefrom.

Such warning notwithstanding, we should not at all be discouraged by such fear to speak our mind and be persistent in the principles we genuinely believe in. In our determined desire to stay true to our stand and exhibit such tenacity of ours through words which best describe our position, we must never give way to emotion or resort to vilification and acts of belittling.

Indeed, we are way better than that. 

Sheer objectivity in both fact and opinion should appear consistent and that these two must always be the order of the day.

Advocates of civil liberties that we all ought to be should always refrain ourselves from, let alone propagate to the masses, the misguided notion of liberté sans frontière or freedom without borders.

All things are not without borders. Freedom included.

It was cruelty of Sycorax which landed Ariel in a land of slavery and torment. It could well be the same reason that may cause Ariel to have his hard earned freedom taken away in perpetuity if extreme care and caution were not observed in exercising the freedom granted upon him.

If Ariel who is but spirit could feel for the distress of his circumstances so much that at the dismissal of his laborious service, he had pledged in the name of his liberty that no harm shall be imposed upon others through the dirty hands of his, shall not we, human beings gifted with sagacity and means for the bettering of our minds, have compassion on the circumstances of others and pledge the same as Ariel did?

The choice is ours. Choose wisely.

* Alan Razak is an Advocate and Solicitor of the High Court of Malaya.

** Unlike previous entries, this opinion was co-authored by Randy Chew, an advocate and solicitor of the High Court of Malaya who in various occasions have had the advantage of observing with profound evaluation a wide variety of issues of national importance.

*** The views expressed here are strictly of the authors' and do not necessarily reflect Astro AWANI's.