Humans have a fundamental need for the freedom to pursue their own destinies. In my opinion, it can sometimes be just as crucial as things like clothing and a roof over one’s head. People may choose starvation over the loss of their most fundamental freedoms when they are stifled.
Humans are born free from the constraints of their genes and cultures. Have you ever observed kids? Perhaps the most liberated years of life are those spent as children. As they get older, they learn to function within the norms of society, which may or may not be good for their overall development.
I am not arguing that all restrictions should be eliminated. If the cost of freedom is harming others economically, morally, or physically, then limits should be imposed. But the fact is that everyone should be allowed to think, say, and do whatever they want without fear of repercussion. Dependence on others or external factors is a major constraint on personal liberty. Those who truly want independence must break free from reliance on others.
Independence is something I strive for in life. I place a high value on independence. To think, say, and do as I please is very important to me, so long as it doesn’t significantly hurt anyone else’s feelings or cause them any physical harm.
Is it possible for someone who must rely on another for his very survival to have complete freedom over his own mind, speech, and actions? Is it possible for someone with few choices to insist that they have complete freedom to do whatever they please?
Personal freedom, in my view, is tied to the availability of choice. It’s impossible to claim independence if one’s choices are severely restricted.
It’s common knowledge that the West exerts undue influence on developing countries like ours, the rest of Africa, and other emerging economies to adopt policies that run counter to their own values and traditions. This is something that many Africans, including myself, have griped about. At times, we have no choice but to comply with the foreign policies that are imposed on us.
A sovereign country shouldn’t be forced to follow a foreign policy that goes against its values, norms, and culture. That is simply not possible.
However, I have consistently believed that independence, and more specifically, economic independence, is the only long-term solution to battling imposed policies, which frequently come with threats of embargoes. A lack of resistance to imposed constraints is a primary factor in giving in to those constraints.
Our efforts should be directed toward strengthening our resistance to the imposed restrictions.
The only tool we have at our disposal is economic might. The unfortunate reality is that we really do not have the freedom to say no to foreign impositions. So long as we remain a nation that depends on foreign aid for budget deficits and basic necessities such as food.
The only way to avoid tyranny is to increase our resources and options so we can always reject arbitrary demands.