REVIEW #8: Freedom, It’s Personal [EDITORIAL]

Freedom. A small, yet, extremely powerful word. Being the members of the Western world, most of us enjoy our freedoms on a daily basis without as much as realizing it. Alas, what was once granted, may be easily forgotten. We get used to enjoying free and independent press, having unlimited access to information. We take the ability to make choices, associate, act according to our own conscience, and say what we think out loud for granted. We stop noticing just how lucky we are unless our freedoms are taken away from us. This is why we should protect them and make sure they remain intact. If necessary, we must take action, as “disobedience is the true foundation of liberty” – as H.D. Thoreau would say.

Yet, even in this part of the world, not every country guarantees the same personal freedoms, or their extent granted by the constitution may vary. On top of that, nothing is set in stone, established once and for all – the rules of the game called freedom may (although should not) fluctuate, undrego changes. Sometimes, the direction of these changes is undesirable. New governments, political or social bodies do not shy away from trying to push the limits trying to bring their own visions of what a citizen should or should not be able to do to life. That is the time for the civic society to take responsibility for keeping them in check. To question every change that may potentialy have a detrimental effect on our personal freedoms. After all, ubi dubium, ibi libertas.1

Responsibility. Without it no freedom can nor should be realized fully. Each and every individual must assume responsibility over their own life. As a society, we must be able to trust one another, rely on each other’s choices. It is the only way we can get stronger as a whole. Unfortunately, to put it in Kirkegaard’s words, it is very often the case that we “demand freedom of speech as a compensation for freedom of thought which [we] seldom use”. Although the foromer should never be denied, the latter has to be its prerequisite.

It is our job to ensure not only that our personal freedoms are respected by others, but also that we ourselves know their value and power. Therefore, we felt that it is our responsibility to devote the 8th issue of Review to personal freedoms in the region. The issues related to freedom of the press, the rule of law, NGOs, paternalism, freedom of religion in the context of education have been thus tackled from the perspective of Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, among others. We hope that closely following and drawing our attention to the recent developments in this regard will help us safeguard our personal freedoms. Because protecting them is our job. It is personal.

Olga Łabendowicz

Editor-in-Chief of Review

Coordinator of the network

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1Where there is doubt, there is freedom.

Olga Labendowicz