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  • Writer's pictureAdia Lancaster

The Flip Side to Freedom

Updated: Aug 25, 2020

For to be FREE is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.

- Nelson Mandela

Ahh…the taste of freedom.  What does it taste like to you?  Smell like?  Feel like? 

Undeniably, it feels GOOD, right?

But with the goodness of freedom comes something else – something we often times lose sight of – responsibility.

Yup. That’s right, the good ol’ R-word.  RESPONSIBILITY. 

In this case, one who has the privilege of being free has a responsibility towards those who are still in bondage.  (Note: refer to the aforementioned quote above.)

According to Oxford dictionary, the definition of “responsibility towards” is

a moral obligation to behave correctly towards or in respect of. 

If you think about it, how can one truly be comfortable and content with their own freedom while there are millions, many of whom are children, who continue to suffer under bondage daily?

To contend for our own liberty, and to deny that blessing to others, involves an inconsistency not to be excused.

- John Jay, founding father, first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, abolitionist, in a letter to R. Lushington, March 15, 1786

Although one may not want to even choose to think about it, doesn’t make that fact non-existent. 

Although one may suppress the objectionable feeling of dreariness that comes along with the thought of those still enslaved and may refrain from taking any action to alleviate that fact, doesn’t mean the problem will go away because there are other people who will take responsibility for it. 

Avoiding and deferring the problem by not feeling personally responsible for the well-being and in this case, freedom of others is nothing new.

Psychology has told us that there is such a thing as a “bystander effect” that encompasses a few things.  

One is pluralistic ignorance, which is what happens when one person looks to the others around them to gauge how they should be feeling or reacting and then bases their action or inaction on what cues they’ve gathered, which are oftentimes inaccurate.

The second is “diffusion of responsibility,” where “the greater the number of eyewitnesses there are, the less each witness feels responsible to help.” 

And the third, according to studies done by Darley and Latane, determined that there are three things that weigh on how responsible a bystander feels when confronted with a situation: “

  1. whether or not they feel the person is deserving of help

  2. the competence of the bystander

  3. the relationship between the bystander and the victim.”

- src: Psychology Today, “The Bystander Effect,” February 27, 2015

Here’s the thing:

Everything is connected. 

We are all connected to each and every living thing. 

This is not whoo-whoo stuff we’re talking about here. 

It’s been proven scientifically, energetically, and spiritually speaking.  

So, the truth of the matter is, we ALL have a responsibility towards each other – the global human family – to take care of one another and raise each other up and set each and every one of us free.

In addition, we have to remember that our freedom is based on someone else’s sacrifice, someone else’s hard work and investment, someone else’s life. 

You may have been born into freedom, escaped in search of freedom, sacrificed everything for freedom, and live each day for such freedom, but no matter where you came from or how you became free, never forget where true freedom lies. 

There is no true freedom without responsibility.

So here’s what you can do:

  1. Fight against pluralist ignorance and talk about the fact that there are more human beings enslaved today than ever before.

  2. Accept this reality.  It may not be your reality, but it’s your brothers’ and sisters’ reality.  Accept that they are deserving of your help.  And accept that we are all connected and every human being is like your brother and sister. Accept it. Own it. And then…

  3. Take action. It doesn’t take big actions to make a big impact. Start small. Commit to taking baby steps in helping to set others free. Just DO something. We can help! Start learning more with our courses, or if you're already "in the know," go out and spread the message - "sharing is really caring" here! And if you're really up to it, engage in our 21 Day Freedom Challenge.

By sharing what you’ve learned, accepting this harsh reality, and taking action, you’re now on the high road to “enhancing the freedom of others.”

You’re not alone.

Together we can do this one step at a time.

You got this!

What first step will you take in enhancing the freedom of others?

New Hope Foundation International
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