“I am free, no matter what rules surround me. If I find them tolerable, I tolerate them; if I find them too obnoxious, I break them. I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do.”
― Robert A. Heinlein
He is free to be responsible for his actions, he is accountable for what he does. He is free to do what he wants, for example he can break certain rules he does not find tolerable. He is a free man, both positively and negatively.
When I first found this quote, I did not think it possible for one human to have positive freedom and negative freedom. How can one person fulfil their potential while being free to do and not necessarily fearing the consequences? The way I see my journey in life is that it is full of obstacles and struggles before I can reach my goals, before I can fulfil the act of being. I believe that every action I take will have a consequence and that is something I weigh before I take that action because those consequences scare me. What I see myself having is positive freedom.
If however, I was on a path with negative freedom. My goals would be reached with nothing restraining me. I would have millions of doors open for me and I would be able to open all of them, if I wanted to. I would be free to do what I wanted without necessarily fearing the consequences because it just is.
Writing this though, I now realize maybe one person can live with both freedoms. A person can fulfil their potential while opening every door available. One can break the rules to get what they want, therefore jumping obstacles and not fully being afraid of the consequences. Maybe, just maybe to fully reach our potential, we need to live with both freedoms. We need to step outside of the box and have the world at our feet with negative freedom and we need to take the proverbial horse by the reigns and take control of our lives with positive freedom.
Because, if we think about this mathematically they balance each other out, one positive +/- one negative = 0. And we know in life we always need balance; Ying and Yang, black and white, good and bad. Balance is in life and these freedoms are no different. They may be opposites but we, as humans, have the ability to access them both and maybe that’s what makes some of us so great. Maybe for us to be truly successful, all we need to do is balance out the freedoms.