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Freedom - what does it mean to you?

(76 Posts)
Greta Fri 25-Sep-20 11:19:00

The Prime Minister commented that we are a freedom-loving country and therefore cannot be compared with other countries. He was, I think, trying to explain why we haven't managed to match the German C19 track and trace success. I'm not sure if most Brits feel they love freedom more than other nations do.

I do believe it played a part in the Brexit referendum; the idea that we want to be free” from the shackles of the EU”. But it must mean more than this, surely.

I sometimes wonder if the average Brit knows just how restricted their freedom is. Growing up in Sweden I was used to having the freedom to roam. This means the right to swim in our lakes and rivers, access, walk, cycle, ride, ski, and camp on any land, -with the exception of private gardens, the immediate vicinity of a dwelling house and land under cultivation. The only thing we have to pay is respect for nature and the animals living there.

Many years ago, before I fully understood the British way of life, my husband and I were out for a country walk. We came to a wire fence and spotted a sign ”Trespassers will be prosecuted”. I didn't understand what it meant. My husband explained and commented: ”you are no longer in Sweden!”

Wheniwasyourage Tue 29-Sep-20 16:13:06

Interesting article Alegrias. Thank you.

To change the direction slightly, Oliver Wendell Holmes said (and I paraphrase as I can't remember the exact words): Freedom of speech does not extend to shouting "Fire" in a crowded theatre.

Alegrias Tue 29-Sep-20 11:02:47

Interesting and relevant article on trespassing from last week's New Statesman

Illte Mon 28-Sep-20 13:44:26

My response about eugenics was really to growstuff who commented on Sweden pursuing a post war strategy of social responsibility. Unfortunately the strategy involved eliminating those who were considered incapapable of social responsibility.

I I did keep to the theme of right to roam until other posters widened it.

Ive enjoyed the time I've spent in Sweden but it is a very empty country with lots of space, even the cities. In Britain Stockholm would be considered a town as far as population goes🙂

travelsafar Mon 28-Sep-20 13:31:32

Freedom is the right to express an opinion on something that someone else says. Be it an agreeing one or the opposite. If i do this at home my other half says i am putting him down or critising. So i keep stum.

Greta Mon 28-Sep-20 13:28:24

Illte, in my OP I focused on the freedom to roam. There are, of course, many other issues relating to the concept of freedom. GN posters pointed this out and I agree with them, it was an interesting discussion.

I do not have idealised memories of growing up in Sweden as regards this freedom to roam. I've been going back there frequently and this particular type of freedom still exists.

I would have gone back this autumn but for the pandemic. Normally when I return in the autumn my family and I go into the forest to gather wild mushrooms. Next year perhaps.

Illte Mon 28-Sep-20 12:54:44

Yes, it was a movement that swept Europe, though thankfully it was never implemented in Britain.

I thought it was worth raising in the context of your question about freedom and your childhood memories.

Whilst Sweden may have been ideal in terms of freedom to roam, other fundamental freedoms were forcibly taken away do I believe your picture of your childhood is unreasonably idealised.

Greta Mon 28-Sep-20 11:44:49

Illte, I think many nations have dark parts of their history. Sweden is no exception. If you are interested in eugenics you may want to read this:

Quote: As the end of the 19th century approached, eugenicists were becoming increasingly influential in British politics. A Royal Commission on the Blind, Deaf and Dumb concluded in 1889 that intermarriage between these groups was to be strongly discouraged.
...A bill for the compulsory sterilisation of certain categories of “mental patient” was proposed in Parliament in 1931 by Labour MP Archibald Church. He claimed it was necessary to stop the reproduction of those “who are in every way a burden to their parents, a misery to themselves and in my opinion a menace to the social life of the community”. Although such legislation was never actually passed in Britain, this did not prevent many sterilisations being carried out under various forms of coercion. End Quote

This sad part of the Swedish history is well known to most Swedes. I remember my grandparents talking about it. The Swedish government has published a lot of information which is available to all. I'm not sure if the British government has done so. You may be able to find out.

paddyanne Sun 27-Sep-20 14:38:48

The 70's was a different world Illte ,we couldn't rent a flat without a marriage certificate ,,,,in Glasgow ,,in 1974 .I couldn't get the pill until I gave my GP the date of the wedding as I wanted to be in control of my cycle for my honeymoon .When my sister wanted sterilised she needed her husbands signature ,,,,that didn't happen he was a drunk and a bully .
The good old days?

Illte Sun 27-Sep-20 13:21:52

Well now growstuffSweden pursuit of social responsibility included a vigorous policy of eugenics, where any citizen deemed undesirable mentally, physically or socially was forcibly sterilised. This continued till the 1970s.

Swedish freedom?

Whitewavemark2 Sun 27-Sep-20 13:07:27

After watching The Social Dilemma on Netflix, freedom seems to mean free from algorithms AI and manipulation.

Florida12 Sun 27-Sep-20 13:02:06

Freedom has come for me with retirement, no clock watching, and I can garden until dusk when the mood takes me.x

growstuff Sun 27-Sep-20 00:02:01


I think Boris went on to say "It is very difficult to ask the British population uniformly to obey guidelines in the way that is necessary". So in saying we like freedom he was really saying we don't do as we are told and follow restrictions imposed by government. My OH worked in Germany and they followed a lot of day to day strict rules without question that the general population here would not. The lack of rule following here has led to where we are with the infection increasing. It is a really depressing thought. Some people's 'freedom' restricts others!

Well said! One person's freedom to do what he/she wants can affect another person's freedom from being bullied, persecuted, exploited, etc.

Any society has to have rules which means that some people won't always be able to do as they want. The key is getting the balance right. Scandinavian countries and post-war Germany have a history of social responsibility, which is in stark contrast to the libertarian tradition of the US.

Arguably, Scandinavians and "more free from", whereas Americans are "more free to.

Spangler Sat 26-Sep-20 23:45:15

B9exchange Sat 26-Sep-20 23:03:49
I agree Spangler, also the right to disagree with an opinion without being flamed or ostracised.

That has come about more simply because the internet has given everyone a soapbox to stand on. There was a time when seeing something from another person's perspective was common place. Not agreeing with them but understanding that their viewpoint differs from your own. That is yet another freedom, known as, freedom of choice.

B9exchange Sat 26-Sep-20 23:03:49

I agree Spangler, also the right to disagree with an opinion without being flamed or ostracised.

In a normal world, the right to go wherever you want, talk to whoever you want, without being filmed or listened in on. To live in a world where neighbours support each other, not report each other.

Callistemon Sat 26-Sep-20 22:52:36

With freedom comes responsibility.

JaneNJ Sat 26-Sep-20 20:37:10

It seems the PM was referring to the management of the Virus, not property rights. I would agree with him. Other countries, including China and South Korea, were intrusive into people’s private lives—monitoring their cell phones, having authorities check in to ensure they remained home during personal quarantines and the like. Certain societies would never allow for such personal intrusion as it is considered an invasion of personal freedom.

Spangler Sat 26-Sep-20 19:16:42

Freedom is the ability to do as one pleases. But it has to have constraints, laws we call them, or we could all go round killing each other.

What I find insidious is the subtle infiltration of our liberty. You should be free to go on line without being tracked, free to shop without your transaction being logged and you profiled and you should be free to protest, properly, orderly and legally without your face being photographed by face recognition cameras and subsequently used against you.

mrsgreenfingers56 Sat 26-Sep-20 18:38:14

There is CROW which is Countryside Right to Roam which we have Tony Blair to thank for. When out in the countryside on the moors and hills you see the CROW signs meaning you have the right to roam and then you can see where the access ends with another sign.

welbeck Sat 26-Sep-20 18:08:01

but did you not realise that the reason the outdoor gym was out of bounds was because someone with the virus could have coughed sneezed over it, rubbed his nose, grasped the bar etc and then you come along 5 mins later and grab it in the same spot, scratching your nose transferring virus particles into the cells most receptive; and so on.
some people are unaware of this, so they have to make a rule, a bit like seatbelts.

Peace67 Sat 26-Sep-20 18:05:27

This is interesting and i feel for me freedom is knowing my rights and the duty of care to pass on the knowledge to people who dont know their rights.
It also for me means self care and boundaries.

songstress60 Sat 26-Sep-20 17:35:51

We are no longer free. We cannot roam any more, because there are more signs up saying "Trespassers will be prosecuted", and freedom of speech is being eroded. It is getting like Korea and China, and since Covid it is becoming a police state. I live alone, so when it was full lockdown I used to go walking for much longer than an hour a day, and I used to exersize on outdoor equipment in parks, but there were stupid signs on saying it was now banned! If you are on your own you cannot infject anyone. We are no longer a free society.

May7 Sat 26-Sep-20 17:28:13

Tillybelle that was very moving to read. Thank you thanks

Tillybelle Sat 26-Sep-20 17:16:19

I love to be free to explore our wonderful countryside in Britain and never cease to marvel at how lucky we are at its immense variety and ability to change from one mile to the next. I have not travelled in any other country where the terrain is so varied in such a short distance that you can travel around so many landscapes in one day. I think the Derby Dales and Peak District are remarkable for this and I value the freedom to travel round there so much. I actually asked a friend once if it was possible to really be in love with a place. For there is a particular view in a special journey in the Peak District that moves me tears.
Yet I do feel that the previous months have brought home just how much freedom is a state of mind. Or at least far more than geographical. I was unable to choose what to eat for my pantry and fridge were very empty. I lost the freedom to potter round my favourite food shops. Being old and alone the loss of visiting friends and having callers did not hit me for my freedom to see people was lost some years ago. I would be a bad candidate for being told what I could or could not do, say in my own house or garden. I accept what I regard as reasonable laws which make it comfortable to live with neighbours, indeed these are essential! It's the same as speed limits, they are not a curb on freedom, they are a protection of safety.
I am very depressed at the lack of freedom for children to run around freely and play as they would in their natural way at this time. I am not convinced they are actually in need of such rigid partition and distancing. I saw a film today where the children moved around like soldiers and it took 2 members of staff and a coordinated computer link to allow one child to use the cloakroom. But after all the frogmarching at 2 metres apart, not touching each other, they went out of a door each pushing it open in the same place with a bare hand one after the other... yet their freedom to run up to a friend, run at all, that was gone. That is the worst loss of freedom. What the children have lost. It makes me cry.
Freedom for me is not having to live under other people's expectations or judgements. I have always been sensitive to the 'comparison game' and 'one-up-manship', basically achieved by 'put-down-manship'. I think I used to live in an area where people did this all the time. Now I have moved away and feel so free because I do not have, well hardly have, anyone judging me any more. This is such good freedom.

hulahoop Sat 26-Sep-20 17:05:19

I agree soda pop !

sodapop Sat 26-Sep-20 16:47:46

Freedom of speech - ha. Doesn't really apply any more does it always some group or other waiting to take offence.