What does freedom mean?
According to Webster:
1: the quality or state of being free: as
a : the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action
b : liberation from slavery or restraint or from the power of another : independence
c : the quality or state of being exempt or released usually from something onerous
d : ease, facility
e : the quality of being frank, open, or outspoken
f : improper familiarity
g : boldness of conception or execution
h : unrestricted use
a : a political right
b : franchise, privilege
In the Arab world unfortunately, politics is a taboo topic, strongly frowned upon because as a populace, we are unable to take criticism constructively. Don't believe me? Simply watch "Arabs Got Talent" and see the reactions of people that are sent off.
There is a laid back mentality of, if you simply ignore the problem, and bury your head in the sand, it will go away.
If not, throw some cuffs on it, fabricate a phoney sentence and let it rot in jail till kingdom come.
In my honest and humble opinion, freedom is basically, the right to choose.
To choose. You are free to choose, whatever follows after that sentence, that is the essence of freedom: Choice.
The Prophet, Peace be Upon Him, explicity and quite simply explained that your freedom ends when it is imposed upon others; the example given was if a ship apportioned its deck to the crew, and each member was free to do as they wish in their alloted portion, what if one decides to dig a hole in his portion? It is his choice, and freedom to do so, right? This will ultimately result in the ship sinking, and the loss of life.
This is one of the few lessons I remember from Religious Education in school.
Ultimately, we are all born free, it is the role into which we are cast that determines whether or not we live out our lives with that freedom.
Mankind has proved, countless time-and-time again, that in the absence of order, and law, chaos ensues. However, we live in a world without borders, it is extremely narrow minded to think that the liberties and freedoms of nations abroad cannot be implemented worldwide, if it proven to be a culture that can help people attain Kaizen, or continuous improvement, development and growth.
In the Arab World, we are more about stamping down on different thoughts and ideas rather than proactively debating such issues. Understandably, everyone is afraid of change, by nature, it is an agreeable reaction. We fear what we do not understand.
Back to the topic at hand, what does freedom mean to you?
To me, freedom is a multi-faceted entity, you cannot accept one face without aknowledging the other.
Stagnation is the number one killer of bright minds; how many medical, political, social and economical great-thinking-tanks that have risen from the Arab world, remain in the Arab world? Very few, as more opportunities lie across the seas in countries that nurture such talent.
What the Arab world needs is a balance between Freedom and Religion.
It is painfully obvious, to any and all, that in the presence of strict guidelines, chaos ensues.
Feel that is incorrect? Alcohol is taboo in Kuwait, is it not? Yet, how often do you read in the paper that it is readily available here, to foreigners and nationals alike? How often do you read about nationals who get caught drunk driving, or the infamous "I Fly Drunk" Kuwait Airways pilot, who confessed that when he was pulled over for drunk driving?
There is a saying, I am not sure of the exact wording, but by making something forbidden you make it desirable. By stamping down on issues, you incite peoples curiosity for that issue.
We need a balance, and we need it now more than ever.