As a child, I didn’t have much in the way of personal freedom. My parents had imposed strict rules about study and play time, and I wasn’t allowed to go out a lot. The atmosphere at home was quite restrictive and I hated it; I couldn’t wait to move out and go off to college. Little did I know that all the freedom I desperately wanted came with a lot of responsibilities.
Even though college life wasn’t devoid of rules, I enjoyed freedom of many kinds. I could stay up all night, eat junk food and watch movies whenever I wanted. There was no fixed study time; there weren’t too many assignments to begin with. And I was free to fill my wardrobe with clothes of my choice. While it was all refreshing at first, the novelty wore off soon. I found myself dozing off in classes because I hadn’t gotten enough sleep. I flunked a few tests because I hadn’t bothered preparing. And all the fancy clothes I bought drained my pocket money, leaving me broke.
My parents had indeed warned me that freedom came with responsibility. But I didn’t understand what that meant until I faced the consequences of my irresponsible behaviour. And this lesson is one I continue to remind myself to this day, for it is easy to take freedom for granted. Each of us might enjoy freedom of many kinds—freedom of belief, choice and expression; freedom to live life as we want. But when exercised carelessly, it might hurt us and those around us. For example, everybody is free to go out for a couple of drinks after a long day at work. But when someone irresponsibly decides to drive home after drinking, they stand to hurt themselves and those on the road.
Maybe, in a sense, we are all wired to take our freedom for granted. When we have something in abundance, we assume it is something we would always have.