Simply doing whatever we want, even if it harms others, is not an act of freedom. Instead, labeling this type of action as liberative, or even democratic, makes it lose its true essence.
Last January 6th, former President Donald Trump fueled his supporters' rage claiming that he had been cheated on; that this was the last stand, and the last chance to overturn the election results and certify his second term. With his speech, and with the help of social media, he drove his supporters and several right-wing activists to mobilize and storm the capitol in an insurrection attempt, and ironically, reminding them to do it "peacefully and patriotically." This riot resulted in 5 deaths and at least 140 injured. Despite all the violence that occurred, this event was considered a "failed insurrection." In other words, it did not serve its purpose, which in the first place was not even beneficial for the people.
Some, in Trump's defense, claimed that this mobilization was an act of patriotism and activism. Before we can agree, let's first define activism, which refers to a practice or movement done to achieve political or social change. Activism exercises freedom; it is the way for the masses to demand what they need collectively or stop what oppresses them and is a way of expanding democracy. Democracy is a government ruled by the people and for the people. It institutionalizes freedom. Trump supporters claiming their fatal siege was done for their country is merely outrageous, and saying so when movements that tackle issues that result in violence towards supporters like Black Lives Matter have made activists horrified. The riot was nothing but an act of assertion, not liberation, to serve the interest of several people, and is hardly analogous to a movement that serves to end the fight against racial discrimination. The capitol riot was a senseless act because the people who joined the mob did not have demands that would benefit America's citizens as a whole. The people only used violence and chaos to intimidate the state into letting them have their way, which was unclear as they had no precise demands, so nothing good came out of it.
Movements like the capitol riot show how America, despite claiming that they are a democratic and a free country, has actually been losing touch with its meaning. The democracy in the U.S. has always been fragile; in fact, the union of the country itself is brittle as extreme individualism is deep-rooted in it. How can a state be democratic if the people have different interests to the point that they cannot be united? The definition of freedom in this country is slowly being altered, and someday, it can no longer be called freedom. Greed and egocentric qualities are pushing down the importance of collective development as a society, and the betterment of the majority. This is evident, especially in American politics. For instance, during the 2016 U.S. elections, both candidates, Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton exposed controversial issues about the other candidate as strategy during their campaign. One of Clinton’s campaign ads exposed Trump’s racist remarks and agendas. Whereas, Trump’s campaign ads portrayed corruption with news headlines and controversies about Clinton. This shows that during elections, the candidates compete with their ambitious plans and programs that acquire diehard supporters while extremely antagonizing their opponents. This way of campaigning is a cause for the American people to be divisive, and with this, the union of the people becomes fragile. Can a democratic country truly succeed if the people are divided?
It is essential to practice freedom, but we should also think of our actions' purpose and reflect on how it would affect us collectively. This kind of thinking should be used especially in mass movements, and should include an analysis in our judgement. If joining will only amplify the significant consequences to come, we should assess the causes we're fighting for. Acting only because of our self-interest, using freedom as an excuse, and not thinking about others will do no good for society.