Freedom—What’s Love Got To Do With It?
On freedom and love, much has been written and said, though rarely in connection with one another. Freedom is common to discussions on politics and the social order, while love is often found in spiritual teachings or material on personal relationships.
This may suggest that there is no meaningful relationship between freedom and love, but is this true? Finding an answer will require a brief exploration of these concepts, to see if any significant overlap exists.
Freedom can be thought about in two ways: freedom from, and freedom to. When you have freedom from something, you have no interaction with that thing. You are utterly untouched by it. When you have freedom to something, the interaction with that thing is unimpeded. There's clear access.
Love can be more difficult to conceptualize, as it takes on many forms. We can love people, animals, activities, even life itself. These experiences each have their own nuance, but their unifying quality is broad and basic. The core foundation of all love can also be thought of as having two aspects: recognition and appreciation.
To love something, we must see it accurately, and understand what we see. We can only truly love something to the degree that we recognize it for what it actually is.
Appreciation builds on recognition. Not only do we see a thing, but we rejoice in it. We value it highly, and may even aid in its increase. Our positive attention can energize and support what we look upon, providing fertile ground for it to flourish. Love honors what's true about the object of our attention, and holds it in high standing.
So what's true about human beings? One core feature is the exclusive control over our own body. No one has the natural ability to hijack the use of our minds, or our limbs. This is granted to us alone. Love requires that we leave others free from any attempt to usurp their natural sovereignty in this regard.
Another innate aspect of our being is that we naturally act in pursuit of survival, thriving, and authentic expression. We often go about it all wrong, but it's core to what it means to be alive, and it's central to all we do. To love a human being, we must allow them the freedom to engage in that pursuit.
For an individual to be free, they must be treated with due acknowledgment of what's inherently true about them. Love is the recognition of those inherent truths, and behavior that demonstrates an appreciation of them.
With these considerations in mind, a relationship emerges that is both simple and sublime: Freedom cannot exist without love, for love is what fulfills the requirements of freedom.