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is just another word for nothing left to lose - or so says Janis Joplin in "Me and Bobby McGee".

All great things are simple and can be expressed in a single word:  freedom, justice, honor, duty, mercy, hope... - Winston Churchill
What Churchill doesn't say is that those single words have come to mean many different things. The definitions are slippery, unpredictable, changing their meaning without warning or pattern.  

Freedom is a slippery word.  It means so many different things to so many different people. Even the dictionary offers up multiple, conflicting definitions. Small wonder we fight over it, for each of us has taken a definition to heart, proclaiming our definition to be the One True Right and Only (OTRO) definition possible, and all the rest of us are liars, trying to steal our freedom from us.

I know my definition of freedom is radically different from my former spouse's definition. We might as well be speaking two very different languages, one of them not even a human language, they're that different.

My definition was formed by the words and beliefs of such people as Eleanor Roosevelt

Freedom makes a huge requirement of every human being. With freedom comes responsibility. - Eleanor Roosevelt
Abraham Lincoln contributed to my definition as well.
Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves - Abraham Lincoln
Nelson Mandela said many things, lived his words, and added depth to my definition of freedom.
For to be free is not to merely cast off one's chains but to live in a way the respects and enhances the freedom of others. - Nelson Mandela
Even a Pope once said something that resonated to my definition of freedom.
Freedom consists not in doing what we like but in having the right to do as we ought - Pope John Paul II
My definition of freedom is freedom from despotic or arbitrary control and the positive enjoyment of various social, political, and economic powers, rights, and privileges - and to extend those same conditions to all those about me.

At no point does my definition of freedom mean I have the right to prevent others from enjoying the same degree of freedom I take for myself.

My former spouse and his friends and acquaintances have a totally different take on freedom.

I've asked, and listened, and observed how they talk and act in accordance with their definition, to determine if they were saying one thing and meaning something else. That can happen - words are such devious little things.

What my former spouse, et al, mean by freedom is the power to do whatever they want. With a strong emphasis on whatever.  And without any consequent responsibility. When they get together to talk, it always comes around to talking about how their freedoms are being infringed, and their liberty stripped from them.
When I asked them what liberty they'd lost, specifically, a single example , it would be something like "control of the wife" or "forced to pay minimum wage" or "forced to hire one of them" or other, darker things.

Freedom is a zero-sum game to them. anytime someone else gets something, it means they've lost it.  It's been personally taken away from them.

What he (they) really means is that they want the ability to exploit, control, abuse, beat, torture, rape and even kill those under their control with impunity and to their personal  benefit without any repercussions beyond having to replace that person.

Last July, after spending a nerve-wracking 4th with my ex and his friends, I wrote a diary about what I'd learned from them.

See, another language entirely.

I don't speak their speak. The words coming out of my mouth don't mean to them what they mean to me. Sometimes, when listening to them, I feel as if I never learned to speak English at all.

Freedom is not the power to do whatever you want, because that sort of freedom infringes upon everyone else. In that type of freedom, there are levels of freedom, granted to those below by those above, and only one person is free; no one else is. That one person has total control over everyone else, and can do whatever s/he wants, take whatever s/he wants, and is not held accountable at all for his/her actions.

That's the sort of fantasy freedom my ex and his friends think they want.

My concept of freedom is much more inclusive.

I want others to be as free as I want to be. I want the right to do what I have to do.  What I have to do and what I want to do are sometimes in conflict with one another, and the "have to" almost always wins out over the "want to", but they do sort of belong together.  I want to live.  That means I should have the right to trade what I can do for the things I can't do for myself so that I get to enjoy such things as food, shelter, clothing, clean air, potable water, good health, help from others when I face a disaster or a temporary obstacle, and safety from the fear of being bullied, robbed, beaten, raped, murdered.

Freedom means I get to enjoy the fruits of my labor - and I get to be fairly compensated for my labor so I can buy those fruits to enjoy.

True individual freedom cannot exist without economic security. - Franklin Roosevelt
My ex thinks freedom is the power to demand that others give him what he wants, and he gets to give them whatever he wants in exchange - and often, that's nothing at all.  I think that's thievery.
Freedom in a capitalist society always remains about the same as it was in ancient Greek republics:  freedom for slave owners. - Vladimir Lenin
We all see freedom differently, but I cannot agree with my ex that freedom is the power to do whatever you want.  He's always looking to his own selfish advantage and using whatever tactics and methods he can to get what he wants regardless of how it affects others. He wants power beyond rights, beyond the laws, for his own private, separate advantage, and never for the good of anyone else unless it brings some advantage to him.

I just realized - that's tyranny. What he describes as freedom is tyranny.

He's going to learn the hard way that he's wrong.

That word freedom does mean what he thinks it means.

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