Shafat Islam

English 1121 – E115

Prof. Schmerler

March, 2019


“The power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants.” (Oxford Dictionary). In modern society, the average everyday Joe has the freedom to do anything they want within the confines of law. Going to the movies, buying a car, hanging out with friends, are a just a few of the vast opportunities and privileges you could have. However, could freedom also act as a hindrance? How could something so liberating actually do more harm you may ask? To sum it up in one word, it is desires. Desires are the those strong feelings of wanting to do something. Malcolm X had all the time in the world during his prison time, however he had very little freedom in the common sense. As a young child, I lacked a lot of the freedom I have today. This lack of freedom was actually more beneficial to me than the vast freedom I have as a young adult. Too many desires create too many distractions when you have the opportunity to do such things. This is the unfortunate consequence of freedom.

Freedom creates many opportunities for branching choices. I could decide to spend my time with friends, or spend it doing something productive. An average human brain prioritizes instant gratification rather long term goals. It is this defect that ends up distracting someone from being productive. It’s easy to spend an entire day playing video games than to finish up that homework you were assigned, or study for that exam. Ask yourself this, do you feel you were more productive when it came to school work during your early childhood? If so, why do you think that? Parents place restrictions on young kids to limit their entertainment and make sure they take care of their school responsibilities. We had an authoritative figure dictating us to stay on the right track. When we become adults, it’s up to us to be responsible of our own actions. For some that task may be daunting and result in a lack of productivity, giving in to our worldly desires. At the end of it all, the more freedom you have, the more self-control is required.

“Prison enabled me to study far more intensively than I would have if my life had gone differently and I had attended some college. I imagine that one of the biggest troubles with colleges is there are too many distractions, too much pantyraiding, fraternities, and boola-boola and all of that.” Malcolm X had admitted, in paragraph 20 of the excerpt “Learning to Read”, that prison had provided him the best environment in learning. Because of the lack of any entertainment or conventional freedom, Malcolm X had taken his time to read as many books as possible. He stared to increase his vocabulary by copying down the entire dictionary. This gave him an understanding for the other books he would go on to read. In the quote above, Malcolm X also says the main problem with colleges, is  that there are too many things to do. Too many distractions that would cause someone to lose focus on their main goal. However because of the circumstances, These restrictions that were placed on him prevented any sort of distractions and provided him the ideal environment to learn and grow.

As a child my parents had bestowed a regime to follow. Go to school, finish homework, do any chores asked, and then I could spend the rest of the day doing whatever I had felt like doing that day. You could say this made me a responsible kid. As I grew older, that regime became less and less enforced. By the time I was a senior in high school, I did not care about the work I had to complete. I became lazy and irresponsible, because I knew it wouldn’t affect me too much. I handed in assignments either late or never at all. My parents didn’t care too much as long as I had graduated. The task of being an authoritative figure, that once were my parents who had instilled a certain schedule I had to follow, soon fell on to me. I had to be responsible for my own freedom and what I chose to do with it. Freedom had become more than a privilege, it had become a responsibility.

Freedom is the ability to act, think, or speak without restraint. Sometimes freedom can be too much for an individual. In today’s day and age, the average person has a lot of freedom. A lot of choices and opportunities. However, what you do with this freedom is entirely up to you. The more you grow, the more freedom you have, and more freedom means more responsibilities. It was within the restricting walls of prison that Malcolm X’s life had changed for the better. Freedom is more than just a word written down to explain the choices and opportunities one is given. It is about the responsibilities that you undertake, and the consequences that follow suit.