Every single person on this Earth was born with a “free will”, and while there are certain places or situations where one’s own free will can be oppressed or restricted in some way, that does not mean that the oppressed individual’s free will is completely eradicated- only repressed. Everyone is born into this world and grows to develop their own goals, dreams, and thoughts which can never be censored even within the most oppressive environment.
For example, many conquerors had often used force and fear to place the newly conquered inhabitants in a position of dependence, poverty, and fear to achieve power and control throughout history; such as that with colonizers and the native inhabitants of those “new territories”.
Today, there are still those who utilize the same aspect of fear to garner control over a mass of people; with Adolf Hitler being an extremely well-known recent example of such a dictator who utilized fear as a means of controlling the public to oppress others who would not conform with his plans. In both examples, a group is being oppressed or restricted in some way. Whether it is through physical restriction and slaughters, or through constant threats on one’s own safety and stability. Still, in both examples, those who are repressed will never cease their thoughts.
Even if one is labeled a “prisoner of war” or a “slave”, that does not mean that the oppressor can stop the individual’s own yearning for freedom or a better circumstance. There will always be thoughts of “what ifs” or “I wish” no matter how beaten or bloody that person is. Sure, the conquered may realize that they cannot achieve their dreams of being something like a nobleman or a freedman when they themselves are dubbed a “mere slaves”, but that does not mean that those slaves cannot wish to be of such a status and it certainly does NOT mean that they will not try to strive for such a dream when given the opportunity. In the end, there will always be some lingering thoughts of rebellion or desperation for something more- a flickering light deep within their subconsciousness.
While the previous examples were mainly based on the more physical approach of restraints, restrictions from external entities such as the government, laws, situations, or other human beings are not the only things that can limit or restrict. Unlike external restriction, one’s free will can be limited internally as well; through one’s own self-depreciation, doubt, or through the influence from those close to you. While humans will always have dreams, not all of them will be accomplished. While some are unfortunate enough to have their dreams limited by certain laws, governments, or social standing, those who are not bonded by these “physical restrictions” may have to encounter internal restrictions from themselves and those they recognize as a “loved one” to achieve their goals.
Being social creatures, humans have always depended on the approval of others instinctually. Each and every one of us are born and raised into a “family” of some form and are therefore influenced by that environment. For example, if others around you deem that talking with your mouth full offensive, then you too will be influenced to think that talking with a full mouth is rude. While some of these influences and early teachings will teach us social etiquette, mannerisms, and morals that can help us build into kinder, better human beings, that is not always the case.
Depending on the culture, morals, and experience received by an individual from those around them, certain actions may end up stunting and limiting personal growth and the achievement of one’s own goals and wishes- thereby limiting one’s free will. For example, like in the picture, perhaps one’s cultural orientation may dictate that women should be restricted to dress or act a certain way or be “kept” to a home from birth to death, but that little girl’s own wishes may differ from the wishes of those around her. While the girl’s own free will influences her to yearn for something more, her cultural foundation as well as the opinions of those around her will cause her to doubt herself and may even lead to her surrendering her ability to act on her wishes, but she will never surrender that burning desire.
In the end, by limiting one’s own dreams in such a way, those who “love” her will end up building a golden cage decorated with precious jewels. While she is indeed in a luxurious and beautiful cage and decorated with precious gold and silk, it is still a cage nonetheless. Instead of “doing what is best” the actions of those around her may end up forcing her to become a hollow shell with no purpose. By limiting her free will, you are clipping her wings and taking away her purpose in life. Because she will never let go of that dream she had completely, she will forever live in depression and pain at the lack of purpose her life brings. It is rather ironic, considering this was all “for the best”.
In the end, it is true that we all have our own “free will” that will allow us to have our own dreams and thoughts that differ in size, importance, and influence when compared to others. But, nonetheless, these dreams are all beautiful in their own way, for they have come from your own thoughts- a product of your very being. It would be cruel to restrict such a beautiful thing, but in this world, there are instances where such restrictions are dubbed “unavoidable” by those who claim to restrict in the name of love.
After all, since we each have our own “free will”, we too differ from each other in the way we think, and with difference comes fear and conflict. With conflict comes the destruction of other people’s dreams; whether it be intentional or not. We may claim that what we are doing is “for the sake” of others, but your dreams and wishes will never be the same as another’s regardless of blood relations.
It is also useless to decorate those binding chains with precious gold, for in the end- no matter what material those chains are made of- that gold still serves to purpose to restrain and bind, to limit. It is impossible to force your will onto another being completely without utterly destroying their psyche. For those who claim to do so in the name of love, open your eyes! Is what you are doing really helping? While love may strengthen and help others grow, there will always be a limit as to how much is too much!
Step out of your shoes for a little bit and ask yourself “what would I feel if that was me?” In the end, everyone should have the right to strive to be independent and free without bondage. After all whether or not our decisions will lead to regret or harm in the end will be up to us, and if that decision was made willingly it will be so much more easier to accept and learn from our mistakes.