Travel True Rotating Header Image

The Difference Between Freedom and Liberty

While traveling, a common topic of conversation is “freedom”. Especially when traveling through third-world or communist countries, knowing that you can hop freely from country to country with minimal inconvenience while the people all around you are striving to put food on their table tonight is a very humbling thought. When you aren’t a resort-dwelling luxist, travel can bring huge amounts of perspective to your life.

If you are reading this, you have freedom. Freedom to get on the internet and read about whatever you want. Freedom to talk freely and communicate with people all over the world. Freedom to build things and criticize things other people have built. Freedom to live life and walk around without constant fear that a lion is going to attack you.

These things border on seeming silly because we’ve all had them our entire lives and take them for granted. That is one of the best things about freedom. It has already been fought for and won, so you have the freedom to not constantly think about it. You can be completely relaxed about it while you watch a hilarious TV show that some other free people built from scratch and you downloaded from the internet without paying. Then you can, if you so desire, leave some scathing reviews of it online about how they never should have bothered. Not once do you have to worry about that lion.

World = OysterFreedom is something completely passive that you never have to think about. Liberty, however, is active. You “have” freedom. You “take” liberties. Liberty is what you do with what freedom gives you, if you choose to.
With freedom, you can choose to go to university and go into academia. You can shun education and get a job flipping burgers. You can start your own business that helps other people so much that they pay you a fortune to keep doing it. You can start a non-profit and build schools in third-world countries to bring them education they otherwise wouldn’t have the freedom to get. You don’t have to do anything with freedom, but you have the option of taking the liberty to do amazing things in life.

It’s become commonplace for people tell me that they are inspired by me or they are jealous of my life. While I should be flattered by these things, I usually just feel awkward and don’t know what to say. I don’t feel like I’ve done anything special in life. I’ve just recognized the things in life I don’t like doing, thought about what things made me happy in life, and started building plans to cause more of the latter and less of the former. It has been and continues to be a lot of work, but it’s worth it to me to have interesting stories at a party.

I have good days and I have bad days. There are productive days and there are days where I don’t leave the bed. There are days where I build beautiful things with amazing people, and there are days where I’m stuck in a metal chair for a dozen hours at an airport because of a mechanical failure. The trick is focusing on the good parts and trying to turn the bad parts into good parts, or at least amusing ones with a good story. Stuck in the airport for 12 hours? Make some friends and have some wheelchair races! Do anthropological surveys of the gift shops and what kind of people would buy those things! Write a novel! Whatever you do, don’t just sit there and complain about how life sucks, because that just makes it true.

You have freedom. Are you going to be content with that and the beer that helps you forget what you aren’t doing, or are you going to take the liberty to do what you really want in life? It’s work. Hard work. But I assure you, it’s worth it.

Related posts:

Leave a Reply