Definition Essay- Mental Freedom It has been said that the mind is a powerful instrument and whatever the mind perceives, the body can achieve. Although these statements are used very often, the power that the mind holds is still underestimated in my opinion. Mental freedom means being able to express the constructive qualities of the mind easily and more understandably. These qualities include self-expression, analysis, responsibility, patience, etc. Though physical freedom is important, one should also remember that this physical liberty is almost insignificant without being mentally free.
It is through this mental freedom that one can be able to have an open mind and be able to reach their highest potential. Also, being able to enlighten others and move forward as a community. However, this freedom is often overlooked because of the mindset of an individual, community or society on a whole. It is also not easily seen unless being contrasted by the term ‘mental slavery’ which is more commonly spoken about in society. The word mental means ‘of or relating to the mind’ and slavery means to be in a state of subjection.
Slavery is also synonymous to the word bondage and emphasizes the idea of being controlled. Therefore, the phrase ‘mental slavery’ implies one’s thoughts being controlled by someone else and being forced to think the way that person does and not being able to express one’s personal train of thought. Being mentally enslaved is dangerous because it leads a person to eventually having a lack of individuality and readily accepting and believing what is told to them. In extreme cases, it may even lead to self-hate.
When a person has this state of mind, it proposes many problems because it gives way to this person letting go of their culture, traditions, or heritage, and these are the qualities that allow society to be as diverse as it should be. One can almost say that mental bondage destroys a person psychologically because they begin to lack, or no longer possess, originality. Having that lack of originality may be self-restricting as this is a quality that helps one to reach their highest potential.
As the prolific and popular American writer, James F. Cooper, once said, “All greatness of character is dependent on individuality. The man who has no other existence than that, which he partakes in common with all around him, will never have any other than an existence of mediocrity. ” Therefore, being mentally enslaved, or lacking that mental freedom, inhibits growth and causes one to create a mental prison for themselves, thus leaving no room for independence.
Having that lack of independence may cause a person to be subjected to any kind of power from a majority, not necessarily because they hold the most legitimate viewpoints, but because they seem to be the strongest group. Henry David Thoreau, an American writer and philosopher best known for his attacks on American social institutions, believed firmly in the importance of independence, individuality and self-reliance.
Thoreau spent a night in jail refusing to pay taxes in protestant of the Mexican War and disconnected himself from the American government ideologically to indicate his refusal of participation in their institutions. This was Thoreau’s mental freedom from the government’s view of slavery during the 1800’s and he was able to state this on paper when he wrote his essay Civil Disobedience which showed his objections against the actions of the government. Thoreau’s essay spoke about transcendentalism, a philosophy that shows the importance of mental freedom.
This philosophy rejects the idea that knowledge can be fully derived from observations of the physical world or through the experiences of others, but rather through the individual examining how they came to know things. This idea targets the individual analyzing their own thought-process and focusing on their own connections and experiences which can only exist through intuition and feeling, and not through the information or thoughts others try to feed them.
According to this philosophy, through mental freedom, one should be able to gain self-reliance and individuality which is critical for people to find truths within themselves and live their lives through reason and not based solely on the opinions of others. Another famous writer whose work demonstrates the importance of mental freedom is Fredrick Douglass. However, in this case, Douglass was not only mentally enslaved but also physically a slave. In his autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Fredrick Douglass, An American Slave, he tells his story of being born a slave and the struggle it took to really know what hat meant. As he gets older, he is taught an important lesson, the power of literacy, after his master forces his wife to stop teaching a young Douglass how to read. Fredrick Douglass then determines to continue his education by befriending white children and learning how to read and write from them. This is the point in his life where he realizes one can only be kept in slavery as long as they are in ignorance. Douglass then becomes mentally emancipated from the idea of him having to be someone’s slave and destines that he would no longer have someone control him.
In the future, he is able to buy his physical freedom from his slave master and become a famous antislavery writer that tells his story about how he broke away from bondage and helps others still caught in its trap. From the story of Fredrick Douglass, one can see that just his refusal to accept himself as a slave and not be limited to what his masters wanted of him, he was able to reach his full potential and also enrich the lives of others who need to gain mental liberty. Also, his mental freedom led to his physical freedom.
Through the experiences of Thoreau, Douglass and other daily examples in society, such as inner city teens limiting themselves by not going to college because they see it pointless if they are not as privileged as other children with well-paying jobs and careers, one can see how important it is to be mentally free and not create psychological prisons for oneself. Mental freedom means showcasing and expressing individuality and building up motivation and confidence within that individual.
It also means exhausting the possibilities of restricting oneself to a point that someone else thought they should not pass and enlightening others on their way to exceeding those restrictions. An enslaved mind is like a blind person; they only know the world through the opinions of others around them, but unless that blind person decides to help themselves, or that person decided to be mentally free, then can they have their personal experiences that give way to a higher potential in life.