So, today in England is ‘freedom day’*
We all want freedom — but what does it mean?
Poll on LinkedIn until 21/7/2021: https://www.linkedin.com/posts/antlerboy_future-economy-covidehi19-activity-6822773718541045762-OSO1/
The past 18 months have been very very difficult for most of us all around the world, and in the UK, there have been many deaths, many more infections and many more people bereaved, many people who have lost their livelihoods, opportunities, life experiences.
And there has of course been an upside in working and living differently, as well as the substantial costs.
So this is an opportunity to reflect on what we value, and how we want to be.
Because, unfortunately, it’s another opportunity to drive a wedge between different groups of people. Let’s try to reflect and learn instead
Most obviously, does freedom mean the ability to do whatever we like, whatever the collective impact?
Or does it mean the ability to be free of the worst impacts of our collective behaviours?
Does it mean freedom from government dictat, or freedom from risk?
Freedom can be instantly interpreted in at least four ways:
1- of expression — to say what I think and feel
2- choice — to do what I wish
3- platform — to be free because I am enabled, privileged, supported
4- protectedness — freedom FROM risk, want, suffering
All of these are valuable.
Try to distinguish them, and to think about what you value and what you are willing to give up. It might lead to better conversations?
* (I never understand why people accept these manipulative labels — why sports commentators don’t refuse to use the sponsor’s name in stadia or cup competitions, and Sir Ivan Rogers, one of the earlier of the many principled resignations over “Brexit”, is the reason why I always put that execrable word in scare quotes.)
My personal view is somewhere between two and three, and I recognise that those who were ‘shielding’ are now exposed and have to ‘self-shield’ with no support now feel massively unfree.
I won’t be going into an indoor space with people who are not wearing masks, keeping distance, and maximising air flow.
However, I am lucky that I’ve got enough people I know and respect who disagree. So:
- I recognise there are at least two sides to the story — e.g. the hospitality industry are massively suffering
- I realise that this is about a whole broken system which has failed us badly over the last 18 months — as well as struggling and working valiantly and heroically to save us, too!
- I can see that my stance on this is all totally consistent with a left-leaning, university-educated, pro-EU, middle class position (and when your views match your cliche, it’s always worth double-checking them)
- I’m not a mask-, vaccine-, or COVID-sceptic — but I realise that conflicting guidance and information even just from the recognised authorities gives some intelligent people cause to doubt
What I do recognise is that simple polarisations and blame are not going to help anyone or anything.