Freedom of Speech or freedom of thought?

What would be more important to you; to be able to say what you want to whomever you want? And would you call that freedom? Or would you rather be free in your mind and bite your tongue if you have to?

What is freedom?

Freedom is a strange concept. We often think freedom starts with being able to go where you want, to have a passport, to do whatever you please and that no rules apply to you. We blame governments for our lack of freedom but maybe they are just a product of our thoughts? What if we are really free but we can’t handle it? What if you live in prison and yet still feel free?

All these questions puzzle me right now and this quote I read last night really opened my eyes:

People demand freedom of speech as a compensation for the freedom of thought which they seldom use.
Soren Kierkegaard

What if we are already free and we just don’t realize it?

What if real freedom starts with our thougths? We are free to think what we want. We think we need to go on a holiday to be free, to give our minds a rest. We postpone things because our head is full of thoughts. Our minds are occupied with thoughts we don’t really need or want and running away from it won’t help.

Physical freedom, freedom of speech is one thing. But what about our mental freedom? Our mind is the only place nobody can imprison. Last week I saw a documentary about a man who was arrested and held prisoner without a trial in Guantanamo Bay and finally was sent free. When he talked, he appeared like a real free man. Not only physical but also mentally. He didn’t even seem to hold a grudge against the men that tortured him. Not feeling the urge to blame anyone or anything, not any system or mistake, for your loss of physical freedom is what I call real freedom.

Without freedom …

Freedom of speech and the pink elephant

A few months ago I wrote about freedom of speech on a small social network that was deleting peoples posts without any clear reason. My message there was:

Freedom of speech is freedom of thought

Freedom of speech is just that, you feel like you want to speak your voice and listen to what you want for yourself. Instead of visualizing what you don’t want in your life, focus on what you do want in life. And instead of talking about what you don’t want in live, talk about what you do want in life. Freedom of speech, for me, starts with freedom of thoughts. As soon as I focus on what I don’t like about myself, I feel stressed out. And so will little children feel when you keep telling them what not to do. And so will civilians feel when you tell them what they shouldn’t do. And so will users of any social network feel when you tell them what not to talk about. Freedom of speech is not a small thing. It is the core essence of who we are and who we want to be. If anybody or anything tells you what you shouldn’t do, it brings you down. For little children it breaks down their self-esteem (don’t hurt your little brother, don’t spoil your drink, don’t cry), for adults it means muting what they feel deep inside. Real freedom does not need to rebel against anything, does not wait for permission to speak and it certainly does not wait for permission to think.

Originally published at on July 3, 2015.