Freedom: A Luxury Rather Than a Privilege

hayley mcdonnell life lessons lifestyle the retreat May 07, 2021

By Hayley McDonnell

Never has freedom, or a lack of it, been felt so keenly by us all as it does today. The idea of imposed isolation, restriction of movement, essential journeys only, job losses, education disrupted beyond recognition, separation from loved ones, the mental health and well-being of all, as well as the massive and unnecessary loss of life, have all been commonplace on both an individual and a worldwide scale. Whilst conflict and division are nothing new between different social membership groups of races, nationality, gender, religion and so on; a worldwide virus has placed us all, without exception, into one membership that no one wants to be part of.

Leaders of countries refer to these times as ‘nothing we have ever experienced before’ and with no frame of reference to rely on, the decisions made are often with the suggested tone that this is unknown territory for us all. However, the lack of freedom and the social ramifications as alluded to already, are similar if not the same as citizens living through at least one world war and, for some, two in this country. So, what happened to those who were rewarded with freedom after the ending of World War II?

VE stands for ‘Victory in Europe’ and remembers the day which allied forces announced the surrender of Germany in Europe. The announcement took place on Tuesday, 8 May 1945. It sparked celebrations around the world as the day before, at 2.41pm on 7 May 1945, Germany surrendered. Today, many Germans, and other European countries, remember the day as freedom from fascism, which can be read about here with the various names or celebrations given. 

Consider the meaning of the word ‘victory’ in a colloquial sense? What do you think about when you hear the word ‘victory’? My family members said, ‘success’, ‘an achievement overcome’, ‘something positive’, ‘winner’, ‘defeated’, and so on. VE Day is a day to remember and is an ideal opportunity for reflection and recognition on what we have achieved.

As #socialdistancing front garden street parties were celebrating VE Day in 2020 with front windows and gardens adorned with blue and white bunting to remember this important victory, today we can also use it as a chance to focus on personal goals achieved or are working towards this year and the rest of the year, to unfold.

What did the nation, or even Europe, achieve? Without meaning to sound glib, we achieved freedom, which can be further explored using some historical analysis. This shared experience united people through travesty and grief. There is a strong resemblance to our continent and indeed the world right now. We want freedom: freedom from lockdown or a threat of lockdown, freedom from uncertainty, and freedom from mental health and physical health concerns. Quite simply we are looking for freedom. With scientific advancements ready to keep pushing forward with vaccines being readily available to all, we will have our own victory and our own freedom. Though we won’t forget those who have suffered and are still suffering physically and emotionally, we won’t forget the lost opportunities for children and young people to meet, socialise and enjoy a childhood rather than increasing concern for mental health and well-being. We won’t forget the sacrifices and hard work of our frontline workers, and the work that is continuing to support everyone irrespective of age, gender, class, race, religion, or personal circumstance and need. We won’t forget the lives lost. We won’t forget that freedom is a luxury and a privilege, not a right or an expectation.


Spiritual - What does peace mean for you? Try a mindfulness activity on your daily walk.

Moral - How can you resolve conflict? What has worked for you so far? What would you be prepared to do to get your own way?

Social - Every year we are reminded of freedom from war and invasion. Today, we have become used to having our freedom removed with rules imposed on the way we live. Make a list of things you want to do without the restrictions of lockdown. Use the privilege carefully.

Cultural - Apart from VE Day, what else does the UK have in common with other European countries?


Hayley McDonnell is a Personal Development/SMSC consultant and author intent on bridging the gap between countries, cultures, customs and ultimately people with “Global Collaboration” Her aim is to make our world feel smaller by connecting with our similarities and embracing our differences. She loves to travel and meet new people from different backgrounds, countries and cultures. You can find out more about Hayley here.




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