If freedom is best defined by those who don't have it, what does that say about you and your ideas of freedom?

Finding Freedom - what is freedom?

Can we be free as individuals, while there are others who are not free?

Does my freedom come at the expense of others?

What does freedom have to do with responsibility?

Can we all be free?

25 people from Europe and beyond shared their thoughts around these questions. Together their voices let us discover something that is beyond words, something that could not be said by one person alone. Are you really free?

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Finding Freedom

Freedom means a lot of things.
To me freedom…
to me freedom…
freedom.

Freedom for me has a lot to do…
and for me freedom means…
Freedom for me is…
Today I know freedom is…
My idea of what freedom is: I’m not sure that it exists yet.

Freedom, I won’t let you down. I will not give you up. Freedom. In my mother tongue, the word for school summer vacation translates literally to The Big Freedom. So that’s my first association: waking up whenever I want, the beach, and watermelon. As an adult, the first time I came across the word in English, really came across it, was listening to Janis Joplin Bobby McGee, where freedom was just another word for nothing left to lose. Growing up afterwards, though, it’s clear to me, that freedom could probably be best defined by those who don’t have it. For the poor – money would be freedom, for the oppressed – equality.

I know we need to uphold our freedom every day, and never stop fighting for it.

Fight and criticism and…
love without boundaries and without borders.

In essence, we all want the same –
and we’ll never stop fighting for it.

In regards to Europe, I wish more people would believe that our well-being is tied together with the well-being of all of humanity and that of our planet, and see that the other, and the different, is an opportunity for growth and love – without boundaries and without borders.

For me, freedom is the possibility to choose. To choose your location, choose your community, to choose your career. No matter what your gender is, your skin color, your sexual preference, or any other criteria. And this is not yet a right by birth. This is right now the privilege of a few around the world.

In essence, we all want the same.

We need political, economical, and social systems that would enable us to enjoy the freedom, we strive for.

Freedom, I won’t let you down. I will not give you up. Freedom…

To me, freedom means being able to move and express yourself freely.

Freedom is being able to travel and work outside of your country.

Even though the Western society, we live in, doesn’t feel like it’s confining me in any way. Are there bars that maybe I cannot see? Does my freedom come at the expense of someone else’s? None of us are free until we are all free. But for all of us to be free, we need to agree on what that means. Or?

My idea of what freedom is… I’m not sure that it exists yet. Because I think it is something that has to exist for everyone, or, has to at least be a right for everyone. I don’t think in the world right now it is considered a right for everyone. I think it’s something that exists in space and in time.

In space, it exists as a kind of ability to move anywhere in space, and still be safe from other humans. And also in time to know that going forward into the future, you’ll continue to be safe from other humans. Some people have these safeties right now, but not everyone. And that stops there from being freedom, as I see it. Freedom is the right to those safeties in time and in space.

For me, freedom is the possibility to choose. To choose your location, choose your community, to choose your career. And this is not yet a right by birth, this is right now the privilege of a few around the world.

Because I think it’s something that has to exist for everyone or has to at least be… has to be a right for everyone. And I don’t think in the world right now it is considered a right for everyone.

In essence, we all want the same.

We need political, economical, and social systems that would enable us to enjoy the freedom we strive for.

To have the time to get somewhere, in the way that I want to get there at that moment. Or deciding that I don’t want to get there, and stay where I am. Or, this place where I want to get to, can be a project or can be just being with a person. Being alone. It can be biking somewhere instead of taking the train, or it can be taking my shoes off, and my socks off when I have super sweaty feet. That could be freedom.

Waking up whenever I want, the beach and watermelon.

Freedom, for me at least, means the luxury of choice.

It’s clear to me that freedom could probably be best defined by those who don’t have it.

Freedom, in a bold sense, means to be able to exist humanely, to be respected in all social, political, and cultural conjunctions.

I was born in 1984, in socialist Bulgaria. And today I know freedom is something we can take for granted, something we don’t realize we have until it’s lost. Being part of the post-1989 generation I know people my age are tired of Bulgarian reality. But precisely because I remember 1989, I know we need to uphold our freedom every day, and never stop fighting for it.

To me freedom…
for me freedom…
freedom…
an idea, which is achievable through constant fight and criticism.

It’s clear to me that freedom could probably be best defined by those who don’t have it.

Freedom can be something as small as being able to listen to your favorite music or dance to it publicly or even dress however you like.

But even though the Western society we live in doesn’t feel like it’s confining me in any way, are there bars that maybe I cannot see? Does my freedom come at the expense of someone else? Freedom, I won’t let you down. I will not give you up.

For me, freedom means choice. Unfortunately, not everyone has a choice. Because you cannot call it choosing if you have to choose between two different evils. Because sometimes freedom for some can be actually suffering or slavery for others.

Like for example, the choice that people in some poor regions in Asia and Eastern Europe have, as of jobs, working 14-hour shifts to make clothes which are being consumed in Western Europe. Freedom for some can be actually suffering or slavery for others. So this is what I criticize Europe for, for being the same consumer it has been for centuries.

To me, freedom is justice, equal opportunities, and above all, my voice being heard.

It’s clear to me that freedom could probably be best defined by those who don’t have it.

Because I think it’s something that has to exist for everyone or has to at least be, has to be a right for everyone. And I don’t think, in the world right now it is considered a right for everyone.

To me, freedom in a bold sense means to be able to exist humanely in our respective social, political, and cultural conditions.

We need political, economical, and social systems that would enable us to enjoy the freedom we strive for.

I came to Europe about 20 years ago with my two sons, because we have been heavily impacted by what I know consider issues related to personal freedom. For me, freedom is the idea of not being afraid when I’m pulled over by a policeman, unfairly, driving my small child down the street, and harassed, surrounded by other policemen and feeling terrified for my life and for the life of my child. That’s my concept of freedom. And that’s why I came to Europe so that my sons could grow up not thinking about the color of their skin, and fearing it, the way I did.

And this is not yet, a right by birth, this is right now a privilege for a few, around the world.

I know we need to uphold our freedom every day, and never stop fighting for it.

In regards to Europe, I wish more people will believe that our well being is tied together with the well being of all of humanity and that of our planet, and see the other and the different as an opportunity for growth and love without boundaries and without borders.

I’m living and working in Ireland. I’ve lived here for two years. This is the first time in my life when I actually feel free. I feel free to express myself in creative ways. I feel free to be open and honest about who I am. I’m not afraid of being mocked or judged or ridiculed. And for me this is freedom. This freedom of expression, this freedom of being, comes from education, it comes from a chance to talk about our issues and thoughts openly, safely, and honestly. And, in this education, for me lies the opportunity to change, to evolve, to develop, to come to a better understanding of other people and their intentions and their experiences and their lives. And in the end, with this education comes the freedom, the freedom to be ourselves, and the freedom to let others be who they are.

I came to Europe about 20 years ago with my two sons, because we have been heavily impacted by what I now consider issues related to personal freedom.

I’ve lived here for two years. And this is the first time in my life when I actually feel free.

There are some issues that are connected to the transparency of governing, and access to information.

Freedom can be something as small as being able to listen to your favorite music or dance to it publicly, or even dress however you like.

And for me, freedom is effective. It’s something we feel with our bodies. And it’s an experience: the capacity to be affected and effective. Or better yet, it’s actually that which grants us the potential of being affected and effective. So it is something that moves way beyond words and countries and borders and citizenship.

Freedom means a lot of things, but mainly it’s related to personal development. So regarding Europe, I would say that there are some issues in people’s personal development, that is connected to the transparency of governing and access to information.

Freedom for me has a lot to do… it has a lot to do with empowering. So living in a society that empowers us to speak our voices and to be the best people that we can be.

Freedom for me is owning yourself. Owning your body and mind, owning your decisions, and owning your life.

To me, freedom is justice, equal opportunities. And above all, my voice being heard.

To me freedom…
freedom is for me…
freedom…
for me, freedom…
and for me, freedom is…
freedom for me has a lot to do with…
it can be taking my shoes off, and my socks off when I am super sweaty feet. That could be freedom.

Freedom, for me at least means the luxury of choice.

Waking up whenever I want, the beach and watermelon.

I wish more people would believe that our well-being is tied together with the well-being of all of humanity and that of our planet and see the other and the different is an opportunity for growth and for love without boundaries and without borders.

This is the first time in my life when I actually feel free.

It’s clear to me that freedom could probably be best defined by those who don’t have it.

Freedom…
freedom is the idea of not being afraid.

I feel free to express myself in creative ways, I feel free to be open and honest about who I am. I’m not afraid of being mocked or judged or ridiculed.

In regards to freedom in Europe, I would really like to see more LGBTI freedom.

In the face of rising conservative politics around the globe, freedom is not only a matter of people who do not fit in the social, religious, sexual, and political mainstream norms, but a matter of nature as well. We have been witnessing the destruction of nature and animals, as well as attacks on women LGBTI, non-conformative people, refugees, children, and those who pursue a position of politics. In the face of these, as these are becoming more and more common and daily in Turkey, we need political, economic, and social systems that would enable us to enjoy the freedom we strive for.

The thing that I wish for is that everyone can change their gender markers and names the way they want to. In their IDs, and in registrations. And that they can exist in any space the way they feel like, without having to fear discrimination or violence.

To me, freedom means many things, but something that’s very close to my heart is being able to live my truth as a queer, lesbian femme, and also to know that my family is safe in that regard. So that neither I nor my kids have to suffer from discrimination because of the way we are.

To me, freedom is justice, equal opportunities.

It’s clear to me that freedom could probably be best defined by those who don’t have it.

My idea of what freedom is – I’m not sure that it exists yet. Because I think it’s something that has to exist for everyone or has to at least be, has to be a right for everyone. And I don’t think in the world right now it is considered a right for everyone.

This is not yet, a right by birth. This is right now the privilege of a few around the world.

I know we need to uphold our freedom every day, and never stop fighting for it.

Fight and criticism and love without boundaries and without borders.

Freedom. I won’t let you down. I will not give you up, freedom.

I would really like to see more LGBTI freedom.

Freedom is not only a matter of people who do not fit into social, religious, sexual, and political mainstream norms.

In essence, we all want the same.

And never stop fighting for it.

Freedom to me means to be able to follow my heart.

To do what my heart is saying, to be honest, polite, and kind-hearted. To help people, to be independent.

Freedom for me is the ability to be who you are, and where you want to be. So basically freedom of movement and freedom of expression, and of just existing as who you are in the space you occupy, in the space you want to occupy.

But we are still unable to marry or at least legally certify our relationship with the person we love.

And when I think about freedom in Europe, I believe that Europe still has a long way to go, in order to be free. Especially speaking from the context of being in the periphery of Europe, and oftentimes, not seeing ourselves as part of Europe.

In Bulgaria we can see a visible division of the LGBTI community. The effects of this are crucial, in my opinion, to the development of our whole society.

Freedom is not only a matter of people who do not fit in the social, religious, sexual, or political mainstream norm.

In essence, we all want the same.

What does freedom mean, to me? It means a lot. It means first of all, that I have the right to vote as a woman, that there is no censorship, that I can go to the polls without thinking that someone is following me or that I am controlled in certain ways. Of course, we all are controlled through the TV and, and Social Media in some sense. But I still feel like I have a right and freedom to be whoever I want to be. And to live my life the way I want to live it and to express myself through music or my lifestyle, or whatever it may be, to achieve my goals and dreams and live a better life.

For me, freedom is the idea of not being afraid.

I feel free to express myself in creative ways. I feel free to be open and honest about who I am. I’m not afraid of being mocked or judged or ridiculed.

This is the first time in my life, this is the first time in my life when I actually feel free.

In regards to Europe, I am grateful for the Western mentality that allows us to express ourselves freely and the GDPR that protects our identity.

We live in a country with one of the lowest levels of media freedom in all of Europe.

Working as a photojournalist in Germany, I value very much the freedom that the press is given in this country and the efforts that the government goes through to ensure that there’s press freedom and that there is an open dialogue.

And for me this freedom, this freedom of expression, this freedom of being, comes from education, it comes from a chance to talk about our issues and thoughts openly, safely, and honestly.

This is not yet, right by birth, this is right now a privilege of the few around the world.

To me, freedom,
for me, freedom,
freedom,
freedom, for me has a lot to do.
and for me, freedom means
freedom for me is
to me freedom is…

In regards to Europe, I wish that we were not isolated from the rest of the world by our borders. In the book Citizens of Nowhere, there is a very inspiring quote that says, if Europe is a fortress, we’ll all prisoners. I wish that the so-called European values, which are in the first place universal human values, can spread beyond our borders, and be the basis for our collaboration with countries from outside Europe, without double standards, or hypocrisy.

I wish more people would believe that our well being is tied together with the well being of all of humanity and that of our planet. And see the other and the different is an opportunity for growth and love without boundaries and without borders.

Love without boundaries and borders.

Freedom, I won’t let you down. I will not give you up. Freedom…

I want the world to be a union.

For me, freedom is the idea of not being afraid.

For me, freedom is about not the freedom from, but the freedom for. It means that you should have freedom of choice. It is about responsibility for what you choose. It is about the responsibility for the way you live and where you live and how you live and what you do. So for me, freedom is responsibility.

My wish, my hope, my anger toward Europe: I think we’re in a very strange moment. Because there are people challenging the idea of Europe as a union. And this challenge makes us assume that there was some idea that there is some kind of philosophical link that creates this union. And I think this is actually very dangerous because, it’s dangerous because we have a risk of assuming there is some brilliant philosophical link without ever really defining what that is. And as a result, we end up with the worst parts of it. The inequalities, the excesses of capitalism. The corruptions and bureaucracies. And so, my hope is that we find what that philosophy really is. And that, not only we find what that philosophy really is, but also that we find a way to extend it to everyone, not just to assume that Europe is some kind of place that somehow better than the rest of the world. But to consider these philosophies to be something that needs to be applied to everyone. There needs to be some kind of assumption of equality and safety and freedom that every person has the right to not just people born in Europe, not just people with some connection to Europe. But anyone. The way that we treat others has to be defined by this not just the way we treat ourselves. That’s my hope, and that’s also my anger.

My hope for Europe, in the future, is that we keep opening doors for dialogue.

I couldn’t really say one place in Europe, that I feel works better.

I don’t think that Europe is a wonderful continent, especially since I could use the youth programs for traveling and working abroad.

So in regards to what could be freedom in Europe, I’m honestly quite puzzled, but maybe it could just be freedom from Europe or better yet the fantasy of what Europe is. And maybe this freedom from Europe might just provide us with the potential of existing and coexisting differently and in a way that embraces effective freedom.

Freedom, I won’t let you down. I will not give you up, freedom…

I know we need to uphold our freedom every day, and never stop fighting for it.

Fight and criticism…
and love without boundaries and without borders.

In essence, we all want the same.

Does my freedom come on the expensive someone else’s?

Freedom for some can be actually suffering or slavery for others.

If Europe is a fortress, we are all prisoners.

Not just to assume that Europe is some kind of place that is somehow better than the rest of the world. But to consider these philosophies something that needs to be applied to everyone. There needs to be some kindness, there needs to be some kind of assumption of equality and safety and freedom. That every person has the right to. Not just people born in Europe, not just people with some connection to Europe, but anyone. The way that we treat others has to be defined by this not just the way we treat ourselves.

And freedom in Europe to me means that we should allow people to come here who are fleeing oppression, war, and economic hardships. That would mean that they don’t have enough to eat or to live on.

This is what I criticize Europe for, for being the same consumer it has been for centuries.

To me freedom,
freedom is for me,
freedom
for me freedom.
And for me freedom means…
freedom for me, has a lot to do with…

It can be taking my shoes off, and my socks off when I have super sweaty feet. That could be freedom.

Freedom, for me at least, means the luxury of choice.

Waking up whenever I want, the beach, and watermelon.

Does my freedom come at the expense of someone else’s?

I think it’s something that has to exist for everyone. It has to be a right for everyone. I don’t think in the world right now it is considered a right for everyone.

To me, freedom, in a bold sense, means to be able to exist humanely in our respective social, political, and cultural conditions. We need political, economical, and social systems that would enable us to enjoy the freedom we strive for.

I came to Europe about 20 years ago with my two sons, because we have been heavily impacted by what I now consider issues related to personal freedom.

If Europe is a fortress, we’re all prisoners.

My criticism is that the political class made freedom into a political game, to their advantage. And it has not been, money-wise, good for them to give freedom to everybody. And this is why freedom is still not a reality for most people.

My wish for Europe is harmony and understanding. People, we gotta understand that the politicians are using exactly our biggest fears. And I would say I would implore, I ask you to, I’ve done it – take 10 minutes of your time, maybe in a month – and speak to someone who looks different. Someone who has a disability, someone who has a different lifestyle, has a different kind of religion, is completely different from you. I know it sounds completely bonkers, but if you do it: In essence, we all want the same! We want our freedom. We want our rights. We want to live the life we want to live, we want to work, earn money, have our family, and this is essentially what everyone wants.

Um, and if you go to a place where they have migrants from Syria or wherever it may be, you’ll notice that they are also educated. They have had their life there and it’s completely gone to smithereens. So instead of having the politicians use them as a fear monger, look at it, and let us not be divided anymore.

It is about responsibility for what you choose.

None of us are free until we are all free. But for all of us to be free, we need to agree on what that means. Or?

I think we’re in a very strange moment. Because there are people challenging the idea of Europe as a union. And this challenge makes us assume that there is some idea that there is some kind of philosophical link.

I wish that the so-called European values, which are in the first place universal human values, can spread beyond our borders, and be the basis for our collaboration with countries from outside Europe, without double standards, or hypocrisy.

I want the world to be a union.

What I wish for Europe is, first of all, that it would open its border, borders in general, to everyone who wants to come here. I think it’s only fair considering that all our wealth and our well being here depend largely on the people from other countries that we have been pillaging and robbing for centuries. That’s why they should have the right to come here and enjoy the fruits of everything that has been taken from their countries over the centuries.

Does my freedom come at the expense of someone else?

Freedom for some can be actually suffering, or slavery for others.

In regards to Europe, I wish that Bosnia would take the necessary steps to give all its citizens the freedoms and rights we all deserve.

I wish the so-called European values, which are in the first place universal human values, can spread beyond our borders, and be the basis for our collaboration.

I know we need to uphold our freedom every day, and never stop fighting for it.

Fight and criticism…
…and love without boundaries and without borders.

In essence, we all want the same…
and we’ll never stop fighting for it.

Freedom, I won’t let you down. I will not give you up, freedom…

And lastly, I think that climate change is an issue. Has always been an issue but now more than ever. If we continue in the next 10 years, I don’t know what we will have left but… certainly, the car can’t be driven, the house you can’t live in, because the area you’re in is flooded. Or it’s so dry, the roads will never be made or something. I’m just saying, people, let’s get together and make a difference. Because otherwise, there is no, no planet to be free on.

To me, freedom is justice, equal opportunities.

It’s clear to me that freedom could probably be best defined by those who don’t have it.

My idea of what freedom is, I’m not sure that it exists yet. Because I think it’s something that has to exist for everyone.

This is not yet a right by birth. This is right now the privilege of a few around the world.

I know we need to uphold our freedom every day, and never stop fighting for it.

Fight and criticism…
and love without boundaries and without borders.

Freedom, I won’t let you down. I will not give you up. Freedom…

I wish more people would believe that our well-being is tied together with the well-being of all of humanity and that of our planet and see the other and the different is an opportunity for growth and love without boundaries and without borders.

Finding Freedom is a audio-collage featuring:

Chandra Brooks

chandrabrooks.com

Kamila Horvat

Facebook

Dete Kafka

Instagram

Avital Yomdin

Instagram

Leo Gold

.

Jason Harrell

Instagram

Nikoleta Gabrova

Single Step Foundation

Emilie Lindsten

emilielindsten.com

Rasha Shaaban

Reshape

Sharon Mertins

Story Strumpets

Serkan Ilaslaner

Facebook

Dr. Gal Schkolnik

.

Anastasiia Antonova

Lea Daniel

Lady Deep

Facebook

Cristina Katana

.

Jovan Dzoli Ulicevic

Asocijacija Spektra

Annonymus

.

Teodora Doncheva

Instagram

Franz

.

Stella Kasdovasili

.

Desislava Valentinova

Facebook

Lotti Seebeck

lottis.persona.co

Loulou d’Aki

dakiloulou.com

Ben Osborn

ben-osborn.com

Marija Vuletić

.

Michael Hoh

music

Verena Spilker

idea & production

What do you do to feel free?

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