Sunday, 11 April 2021

E Editorial

Freedom and Responsibility

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After the dramatic events and regime change of 2018, the social media were flooded with assertions that "the revolution gave us liberty" or, even by some, that "Nikol delivered us from servitude."  The frequency alone of such fan support necessitates a broader public discussion.

And so what is freedom, and what is responsibility?  A reflection onthese questions is especially important in the current pandemic climate, where people are not ready consciously to uphold health and safety standards.  Life and logic should demand that they be forced to comply, not be persuaded to explanation.  But diktat is not the way to deal with free men and women.

Freedom and responsibility are often considered complementary notions in philosophy and sociology.  This is natural, as where there is the possibility for the expression of free will, there ensues the matter of responsibility.  Without it, freedom descends into anarchy and permissiveness.

Liberty is both physical and spiritual.  While any of us can be deprived of physical freedom in this or that circumstance, psychological freedom is an internal, substantial phenomenon.

Before 2018, try as they might, no one could violate another's internal freedom.  Those who were truly free could express themselves as they wished, oppose the previous regime, struggle against it, and ultimately prevail.  The examples are many, but let us merely recall the struggles of Shahen Harutyunyan and his son.  A spiritually free citizen cannot be deprived of his liberty, whereas even a thousand revolutions cannot liberate one who does not possess that internal form of liberty.

After 2018 no political assessment  was given of the ancien regime's track record.  Without such assessment, one cannot consider current developments in Armenia to be a political process. To make an evaluation means to raise the imperative of responsibility upon their shoulders.  That would be the guarantee that the incumbent and future authorities would not do the same.

It follows that today many spheres are not being duly managed; crimes and shortcomings are on the rise.  That is an indicator of widespread freedom--but, alas, without responsibility.

The truly free individual carries a sense of responsibility for his or her steps, commissions and omissions.  That applies to members of the new government and parliament.  And whoever does not have such a sense must, in the end, be compelled to acquire one.

It is hard to tell whether there were more free citizens before 2018 or after?  After all, many who considered themselves free before 2018 are now officials--with varying degrees of liberty and responsibility.

As strange as it might seem at first glance, could it be that the number of truly free folks has actually dwindled?

The Armenian Center for National and International Studies

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