Freedom can be defined as a state that facilitates an uninterrupted existence with liberty. It is enjoyed when we experience the liberty to make decisions based on our definition of life.
As a value, “Freedom” has tantalized writers, poets, leaders and philosophers since ancient times for the limitless opportunities it provides while consciously reminding us of societal code of conduct. Along with freedom of the individual, the inevitable change that occurs to society is considered as an impact to life in general.
Theodore Roosevelt had said,
“Order without liberty and liberty without order are equally destructive”
The thirst for this freedom brought about emergence of “Existentialism”. During the depression that hit the society after the calamities caused by World War One and Two and the ensuing economic crises, there arose a fragrance of optimism, a spirit of optimism, brought about by the birth of “Existentialism” – a philosophy that was led by French philosopher, Jean – Paul Sartre along with philosophers such as Simone de Beauvoir, Friedrich Nietzsche and Soren Kierkegaard.
The thought was welcomed by the traumatized war affected society. As a post-war intellectual product “Existentialism” even enjoyed the status of an emerging European cultural movement in the 1940s and 50s.
Personal choice and free will are two of the key elements highlighted in the Existential philosophy. It seeks to help a person find out who he is as he makes choices based on his personal believes. While the significance of existence in the philosophy of Existentialism is undeniable, the philosophy seeks to elaborate on the individual’s comprehension of not just the existence but one’s relationship with the environment.
The ability to empower people is one of the strengths of this philosophy – to empower people as leaders, who, through the wisdom of their life’s experiences would understand and respect people with greater tolerance, compassion and accommodation.
These leaders would also possess the innate understanding of the significance of the individual as much as the importance of empowering them to confront the tribulations and challenges of life. The deep understanding that a person gets through the experiences in life is considered as creating a powerful impact that would make a difference in how he handles his existence. This valuable insight would enable leaders to work effectively with their teams.
As a way of life, the philosophy of Existentialism sees freedom as a step, as a guiding principle to realize our potential while acknowledging the challenges we may face in life. It also provides us with awareness on how genuinely we can “exist as we please” keeping in mind our responsibility as members of society.
If we were to value existentialism as a philosophy and follow it while abiding by societal laws and practices, our belief in society and its fellow members would be one of tolerance, understanding and patience.
These virtues would train us to make genuine efforts to consider the unique individual differences that make us who we are and make them who they are, while we interact with them.