No Love Without Freedom

“No love without freedom, No freedom without love” – Dido

The English singer/songwriter Dido uses this as a refrain in her song of the same title. Her conversation is most likely with a lover. However, as a statement it’s universal.

The other day someone asked me how God could allow people the freedom to do horrible things if he is benevolent and powerful.

There are of course some metaphysical and ethical considerations. If people were without free will and the power to make that will come true, we would no longer be autonomous or independent. We would be automated – acting always without choice. Indeed, there is a question of whether cognition would exist if there is no choice. And if there were no cognition, would there be existence? The cogito – ‘I think therefore I am’ – would no longer exist and so how would we know we do?

But those questions aside, there is a philosophical but also emotional answer that is framed well by Dido in her song: There is ‘no love without freedom’. Virtues like love (in other words bhakti) cannot exist without choice. Love is not just a chemically-induced experience. It is something that takes free choice to both initiate and sustain. Love cannot be coerced; it has to be chosen. So there is no love without freedom.

Equally important is the second part, ‘no freedom without love’. Only those who truly love us, trust us and wish us to be happy can truly give us freedom. God’s choice to give mankind freedom arises from his love. He wants us to find our happiness and trusts that eventually (here, Hinduism’s understanding of eternity and rebirth is helpful) we will all find the truth.

And so, the question of evil in the world is answered by the existence of free will. And, the existence of free will is answered simply by the statement, “No love without freedom; no freedom without love.”


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