Actually, there is no Freedom Index, except in my possibly fevered imagination. The idea came from reading the WordPress Daily Post, “What Does Freedom Mean?” That’s a good question to think about. It is very hard to answer, which makes it interesting.
All of the obvious answers lead you in circles. Millions of people in these troubled times long for the freedom that work brings, but that reminds me of all the five dollar bills I tossed into lottery pools at work. I’m guessing that nearly all working stiffs sometimes dream of winning the lottery and achieving that sort of freedom – even though lots of studies show that a year later, most winners are no higher on the Happiness Index (which really exists).
News reports are always full of threats to our freedom, often couched in words of blame for someone else. Still, on a hypothetical Public Freedom Index, things could be a lot worse. We can watch fireworks if we choose – or not, since we don’t have mandated public celebrations. The explosions tonight will be for fun; we live free of the threat of real bombs. We can can blog and tweet to our heart’s content, and Google on a staggering array of topics.
Personal Freedom is always a little more dicey. We are still guaranteed “the pursuit of happiness,” but you have to wonder how most people would answer the Dr. Phil question: “How’s that working for you?”
The Dalai Lama says all of us desire happiness and an end to suffering, but we really don’t know how to go about it. Many of our choices lead to the opposite result. Perhaps the freedom to ask – really ask – where our real happiness lies, is one of the greatest freedoms of all. That and Freedom of Information which allows us to follow the trail where ever it leads.
Here is Buddhist blessing/prayer, known as The Four Immeasurables:
May all beings have happiness and the causes of happiness.
May all beings be free from suffering and the causes of suffering.
May all beings know the supreme happiness that is beyond suffering.
May all beings rest in equanimity, free from attachment and free from aversion.
Happy Fourth of July!