I've been thinking about my freedom and my rights... without, perhaps, much consequence or depth. It's simple, really. I've been thinking that no one can give me freedom, no one can assure my "rights"--except myself.
There are many freedoms I am required by law to surrender: I am not free to drive a hundred miles an hour on the freeway--or only at the risk of incurring a big fine, or a stint in jail if I happen to have been drinking alcohol at the same time. I am not free to walk into my neighbor's house and walk off with that Tiffany lamp I have long admired. There are many freedoms that I surrender voluntarily: I am not free, by choice, to walk into that same neighbor's house and seduce his charming wife. Nor am I free, by choice, to live on a diet of hamburgers, french fries, and ice cream.
Given these conventionally accepted restrictions on my freedoms and my rights--whether social, moral, or purely practical--I think my way back to the irreducible wisdom and sanity of the Buddhist teachings: the only real freedom, like the only real happiness, is what I work mindfully to find within. Freedom and rights, and their exercise, are skills, to be practiced with the circumspection required by doing no harm--whether to myself or others.
That's simple. And, yes, liberating.