The human person is created with a free will, and can choose how to live, think, act, and behave. In recent times, there has been a great clamour and call for freedoms of all kinds. Increasingly, there is a mentality to think in an individualistic way, with the view that somehow our life is not intertwined with the lives of others. There is also the false perception that when we make our own decisions freely, we will be successful and happy, regardless of the consequences of our actions. The result of this so-called freedom is sometimes at loggerheads with our dignity as human beings, and who a human person truly is; a rational and intelligent being.
Our 2022 theme that embraces freedom and responsibility, core values of Strathmore University, will give us the opportunity to explore what freedom really means, and to reflect on how best we can live this value at a personal and communal level.
True freedom leads us to the best version of ourselves
For our students and other youth, time at university is one of exploration and experiencing ‘freedom’ away from the ‘watchful eyes’ of parents and guardians. It is a time when numerous personal decisions in friendship, impactful relationships, use of one’s talents, studies, and socialization are made, all of which contribute to one’s identity. It can also be a time when one follows others blindly, due to peer pressure and poor use of personal freedom. Upon completion of their studies, through the decisions they make, many students should have discovered who they are, and set a solid path for future careers, social, and spiritual aspects of their life.
St. Josemaría, the Founder of Strathmore University, was a strong advocate for freedom. He was however categorical that true freedom can only be achieved if one chooses that which is right and true, and if this freedom is at the service of others. Freedom, therefore, is not a careless, free-willed way of living according to the flesh of following instincts, individual desires and whims, and conforming with others’ actions without rationality. True freedom is the highest expression of love. It is fruitful, and leads us to be the best version of ourselves.
When the gift of freedom is abused, a deep emptiness is left within us. How often, after following the instinct alone, do we realise that we have used badly the treasure of our freedom, and the beauty of being able to choose true goodness for ourselves and for others?
How often, after following the instinct alone, do we realize that we have badly used the treasure of our freedom, and the beauty of being able to choose true goodness for ourselves and for others? Ultimately, it comes down to the element of responsibility, which corresponds with true freedom. While we are free to search for truth and meaning, we are called to do so in a responsible way; listening to the opinions of others, and thinking of the consequences of our actions thereafter. In a sense, we are called to exercise our freedom, only for that which is truly good and whose goal is to serve others.
The Year 2022 will be a time to explore diverse aspects of freedom through the activities organised at Schools, departments, clubs etc. We are urged to seize the opportunity to deepen our understanding of freedom and responsibility, and to inculcate this value in our daily decision-making.
Dr. Vincent Ogutu