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The concept of freedom has always been one of the central issues for human society (Forner 5). Throughout centuries people have been trying to provide a clear definition and explanation of the essential peculiarities of the concept and state their vision of it. Besides, the understanding of the main idea of liberty has also been altering. It depended on peoples mentality and values appreciated by society. For instance, in Colonial America society had another perspective on the understanding of freedom that could be demonstrated by John Winthrops Speech to the Massachusetts General Court in which he cogitated about the nature of the given phenomenon and stated that liberty was closely related to moral and a persons choice.
Two kinds of liberty
Besides, Winthrop differentiates two kinds of freedom which are natural and civil, or federal ones (Forner 30). The first kind comes from human nature. Being part of the world, people remain animals that preserve liberty to act as they want. An individual might commit either good or evil acts as it is an essential part of natural freedom. However, Winthrop is sure that it could not serve as the basis for the evolution of our society and only civil freedom should be cultivated. It comes from a persons understanding of his/her place in this world and the values appreciated by him/her. This liberty is compatible with the authority and creates the basis for the improvement of relations within any community.
Role of a citizen
Furthermore, civil liberty is related to God and the covenant that exists between him and a man. For this reason, its exploration comes along with peoples beliefs. Winthrop is sure that any citizen could make his/her contribution to the evolution of freedom. Accepting the fact that federal liberty is the subjection to authority, an individual who respects accepted rules and preserves moral norms is an important part of the functioning of any community. However, the desire to cultivate these values should be voluntary. Winthrop draws a parallel between the abidance by civil liberty and service of God, emphasizing the fact that it is an individuals choice that makes a difference (“John Winthrop, Speech to the General Court” par. 3).
Role of a woman
Revolving around the idea of freedom, Winthrop also touches upon the role a woman should play in society and her relations with a man. He is sure that any girl should possess the freedom to choose a man to be her husband. Only under these conditions, she will be able to respect him and accept his dominant role. It is a specific sort of liberty. A woman is obedient, but it comes from her desire to serve the chosen man and treat him as her lord. Subjection to the husbands authority is a unique phenomenon that cultivates liberty and contributes to the evolution of any community.
Winthrop’s ideas are closely are impacted by Puritanism peculiar to the colonial society of that period. The focus on the cultivation of traditional values combined with the voluntary obedience to authorities creates the basis of any society and guarantees its further rise. However, one should understand the fact that this idea of subjection to authority is different from the modern understanding of the religious liberty as Christianity was taken as the only possible basis for the evolution of liberty as its ideas are the true concepts that should be followed when today we accept the right of any individual to choose religion and adhere to it.
Forner, Eric. Voices of Freedom: A Documentary History. W. W. Norton & Company, 2013.
“John Winthrop, Speech to the General Court.” Humanities. 2017. Web.