top of page

You Can't Always get what you want

Cascade ParcelL

 I grew up in a military family, which meant that my life was very structured and I was forced to follow many rules. My parents still let me have choices throughout many aspects of my life. Some of these choices included sports I wished to participate in, playing an instrument in school, and my everyday outfits. They gave me certain freedoms with boundaries and a tight leash. In my household the saying “Freedom is not free,” which is engraved in the wall at the Korean War Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC, was something I heard rather often. Naturally, I questioned my father on most things he told me, especially when he would say something so contradicting. Freedom is the state of being free; how could freedom not be free? He went on to explain that men and women chose to give up their freedom and their lives so that we could have ours.


As a small child I didn’t fully understand what my father was trying to teach me. Not only had he explained that people in the military would fight and die for their country, but also for me and my freedom. Learning that strangers would do such a thing, gave me a sense of appreciation for veterans. As I matured, I came to realize that the word freedom had an even broader meaning than the explanation my father had originally given me. Many people believe that freedom is our absolute right as citizens of the United States of America. Others believe that we are not completely free because we have laws and regulations that some of us don’t always feel like following. Freedom is not just a state of being free and independent, but instead it is a way of living with respect to others and their freedom as well.


 Just by definition, freedom is everyone’s right and nothing can restrict or inhibit that. As stated by the Cambridge Dictionary, the definition of freedom is “The condition or right of being able or allowed to do, say, think, etc. whatever you want to, without being controlled or limited.”(“FREEDOM, 1995). To an extent this makes complete sense. When a person says they are free it means they feel as though they have the liberty to do, say, believe, and act as they seem fit. On the other side of things, freedom can’t be strictly defined. As everyone knows, you can not just do or say anything you want whenever you want. People are never going to be allowed to go around killing others, stealing, vandalizing, discriminating, or abandoning their own children. We need law and order to keep this country from falling into chaos. Can we all truly be free when we have rules and regulations that are supposed to be followed?


We have laws that specifically protect people's freedom. The first amendment in the Bill of Rights states “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” The first ten amendments of the Constitution protect our rights as citizens from the government. On the other side of the spectrum, government officials create and enforce laws to assist with protecting us from each other. In the United States of America citizens have the freedom of choice which allows them to vote for the laws they believe will be beneficial to the country. Not all governments allow their citizens a chance to vote. In the book 1984 by George Orwell the main slogan throughout the entire plot is “War is Peace / Freedom is Slavery / Ignorance is Strength.” (Orwell 4) A totalitarian government is portrayed throughout 1984 with the leader called “Big Brother,” who is in charge of “The Party”. George Orwell wrote the book in 1949 trying to demonstrate how over-surveillance and more government control could lead to required complete obedience. If people rebelled they were sent off to be tortured and reconditioned into believing in and agreeing with Big Brother. In 1984, it was understood that when the citizens were given complete freedom, people were bound to fail. This is very similar to what is going on in current times. We need structure in our lives, otherwise many people would take advantage of the system and prevent others from having their own freedom. For example, with all the protests that have turned into looting and rioting, people have destroyed many businesses or hurt others; intentionally or by accident. These acts have hindered people from their inalienable right to freedom.


To respect others' freedom, we need to regulate and limit how free we actually are. For example, A teenager should not be allowed complete freedom because they would choose to be irresponsible without consideration to how it may affect others and themselves. They don’t want to go to school, do homework or study. Instead, they would rather hang out with their friends and do fun activities. Parents discipline their children and make sure they go to school to learn, even when they don’t want to. Doing these things will make them more valuable to society and just a better all-around person when they grow into an adult. Children also need to be allowed to make mistakes so they can learn from them. Facing consequences and holding someone accountable is a necessary part of life lessons. When someone is completely free to do as they please, there are no repercussions for what they have done; therefore no one should have complete freedom. We always have to be aware and courteous of another person's freedom. It can be freedom of speech, religion, and views or just the fact that they want to be different than you. Respecting their differences and opinions is very important in today’s society. It seems like so many people get offended over the littlest things and we all need to be aware of everyone else's feelings because of it.


In the end, whether we choose to agree or disagree on the subject, we all can say no one has complete freedom to do whatever they want at all times. The term “adulting” is an expression used when teenagers become adults by relinquishing their many freedoms and assuming the extensive amount of responsibilities required for living out in the world on their own. These obligations are not limited to, but consist of, doing chores at home, keeping up with work expectations, and paying the monthly bills. After we take into consideration what it means for everyone around us to have their freedom, only then can all of us truly be free. To quote the Rolling Stones “You can't always get what you want but if you try sometimes, well, you just might find you get what you need.”


Works Cited

“FREEDOM: Definition in the Cambridge English Dictionary.”Cambridge Dictionary, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995,

Orwell, George, 1984 New American Library, 1955, pp 4.

bottom of page