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Is the Good Life Found in Freedom? Example of Malala Yousafzai Essay

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Updated: Feb 27th, 2022

Introduction

The idea of a good life is often arbitrary due to the lack of clarity of what constitutes the subject matter, and what criteria should be used to define one’s life as good. Although a combination of spiritual, psychological, economic, political, social, and environmental well-being is traditionally seen as the marker of a good life, the notion under analysis is still far too broad to make far-reaching conclusions. Nevertheless, the idea of a good life could arguably be understood as the presence of freedom that allows one to make personal and professional choices entirely uninhibitedly (). Using the example of Malala Yousafzai, one may conclude that freedom, particularly, freedom to receive education, voice opinions, and contribute to the community, must be considered an essential part of a good life, while not being its only constituent.

Freedom and Good Life

The answer to whether good life is found in freedom also depends on one’s definition of a good life and what it should include. Although the claim above is quite counterintuitive, and although it might seem erroneous, a closer look at different perspectives on a good life will show that it has a certain substance. For instance, if considering the idea of a good life as that one of peace, calm, and safety, it will obviously misalign with the definition of freedom as the continuous fight for one’s rights. As the Nobel Prize speech by Malala Yousafzai showed, gaining freedom and breaking away from societal stereotypes is often fraught with significant threats, which, in more radical and tradition-oriented communities, may imply putting one’s life at stake. Admittedly, Malala Yousafzai had extensive support from her family members, particularly, from her father: “Thank you to my father for not clipping my wings for letting me fly” (“Malala Yousafzai: Nobel Peace Prize Lecture 2014”). However, her struggle for gaining freedom evidently takes a lot of effort and is fraught with multiple threats. Therefore, claiming that a life filled with fighting for the rights that should be inalienable in the first place is good is a rather questionable statement.

At the same time, when viewing freedom in its basic form as the ability to choose the path that one considers to be the most suitable without being judged or facing the threat of harm is an admittedly crucial, if not the most important, part of a good life. Analyzing the case of Malala Yousafzai as one of the most prominent examples of freedom representing the path to personal happiness, one must recognize the importance of the ability to make a choice as the cornerstone principle of a fulfilling and happy life. The described perspective represents a combination of social and political analysis of the problem at hand since the obstacles that Malala as a girl and a woman has been facing in receiving education and gaining influence is evidently tied to the deeply patriarchal and prejudiced culture in which she lives.

A remarkably similar idea can be found in the philosophy that Dietrich Bonhoeffer promoted in his academic analysis of the problem of racial injustice. Although the problems that Bonhoeffer was exploring given the time frame and the environment of pre-WWII Germany cannot be compared to the Z that restrict women’s access to education, certain ideas can be borrowed from Bonhoeffer’s perspective to make conclusions about the role of freedom in one’s personal happiness (“Dietrich Bonhoeffer 1906-1945”). Outlining that Nazi Germany sought to exploit the influence of the Church to recruit more people into its cult, Bonhoeffer mentioned that the freedom of choice should remain one of the foundational social values. Specifically, Bonhoeffer declared that “If ‘non-Aryans’ were banned from the ministry, he argued, their colleagues should resign in solidarity and establish a new ‘confessing’ church that would remain free from Nazi influence” (“Dietrich Bonhoeffer”). Therefore, the idea of freedom as the right to receive education, freedom of opinion and expression, and the right to live one’s life as one wants, provided that one’s life choices do not infringe upon the rights of others is understandable and relatable. Moreover, the described perspective on freedom makes it an essential part of a good, happy, and fulfilling life.

Conclusion and Three Different Ways of Knowing

Although freedom as the right to be educated, be proactive in a community and have the right to expression are not the only aspects of a good life, they are doubtlessly vital components of it, as the case of Malala Yousafziai indicates. The story of Malala has shown that freedom is crucial for personal happiness and the ability to live a good life. Apart from the evidence provided in Malala’s case, several ways of knowing the answer to the question under discussion have also helped to examine this issue. Specifically, the intuitive understanding of the importance of freedom for self-fulfillment, the presence of cultural values that place freedom rather high among the essential requirements for happiness, and the presence of the legal framework that lists freedom of expression, education, and speech as inalienable rights of an individual need to be mentioned. Overall, the good life can clearly be found in freedom, although other aspects of personal and professional fulfillment also need to be present to make one’s life truly good.

Works Cited

Encyclopedia.USHMM.org. Web.

ChristianityToday.com. Web.

YouTuIbe, 2020. Web.

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IvyPanda. "Is the Good Life Found in Freedom? Example of Malala Yousafzai." February 27, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/is-the-good-life-found-in-freedom-example-of-malala-yousafzai/.

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IvyPanda. 2022. "Is the Good Life Found in Freedom? Example of Malala Yousafzai." February 27, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/is-the-good-life-found-in-freedom-example-of-malala-yousafzai/.

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IvyPanda. (2022) 'Is the Good Life Found in Freedom? Example of Malala Yousafzai'. 27 February.

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