If there is one thing the coronavirus took away from everyone, it’s freedom. You’ve lost your freedom to touch your face and eyes spontaneously, or hold and hug a loved one anytime you feel like it. Your freedom to not wear a face mask if you don’t want to will be questioned. You can’t travel abroad without being quarantined for 14 days. You can’t even meet friends and have a party for someone’s birthday.
In some countries, governments are using stay-at-home orders to restrict their constituents’ freedom of speech or constitutional right to criticize the administration. With COVID-19, we’re free but not free. Pondering on freedom as an evasive right today, here are five must-read books about different types of freedom.
Smoke and Mirrors by Pallavi Aiyar
In this book about India and China’s similarities and differences, Aiyar talks about how the freedoms of politicians and the middle class in India remain independent of each other, and how this relates to the kind of democracy the country claims to have. It also looks into the challenges 21st century China faces in attempting to balance capitalist freedoms and restricted access to information.
Closed Borders: The Contemporary Assault on Freedom of Movement by Alan Dowty
This book about cross-border movements has been cited several times in case studies, political papers, and books about immigration. Dowty describes border movements throughout history, why governments have responded with strict immigration rules, and how these rules have affected the nations.
George by Alex Gino
Readers may find it difficult to look for this children’s novel in popular online book shops since it’s been part of the banned and controversial book lists of 2017, 2018 and 2019, but it’s worth checking out. Gino takes us into the journey of a young transgender girl, George, who can’t show the world exactly who she is. Find out how she creatively sent the message of her gender presentation to her mother.
Free Speech: Ten Principles for a Connected World by Timothy Garton Ash
The author proposes ten checkpoints in preserving freedom while respecting diversity in this internet-linked world. He said the only way to combine the two is to have improved freedom of speech. It means expanding communication in so many ways across global audiences but acknowledging disagreements and differences in culture and environment. Find out more about it.
Freedom to Learn: Creating a Classroom Where Every Child Thrives by Art Willans and Cari Williams
This useful teacher tool explores the reasons some students don’t learn as much in school despite the classroom resources and activities available to them. The book looks at the role played by peer connection, school environment, and teacher-student relationship in the occurrence of natural learning. It also suggests moving beyond scores as proof of progress and learning in education. It’s an eye-opener for educators.
At a time when your freedom is constrained by something as microscopic as the coronavirus, it might be useful to ask yourself how free you really are. Are you free to acquire material wealth, access information, travel and move around, be yourself in public, express your opinions against other cultures, or unconventionally absorb knowledge? These books will give you context.