Freedom in a democracy is subject to the freedom of one’s fellow citizens. In Eleanor Roosevelt’s words, “We recognize, of course, that all those who enjoy freedom must learn self-discipline — not discipline imposed by the state but discipline imposed by themselves for the sake of the rights of other human beings.” In short, we understood the limits of freedom and the consequences that follow from being insensible and unconscientious in handling it.
History is in the making, and as we live through this historical moment, I realized that the crisis of 2020 left a deep imprint on what we do and how we do it, even on how we perceive our rights and freedoms. Our awareness about freedom and choices got sharpened during this time. We figured out how our personal choices are dominated by everything around us and are not absolute and unqualified. Our freedom is relative and not wholly independent — independent of how it could adversely affect others.
As much as an individual’s freedom is central to addressing deprivations that crises cause, it is important to recall that freedom is also a social commitment, failing of which can make substantive freedom of individual agency rather hostile towards the effectiveness of aggregate freedom of all. 
In his commendable work, Development as Freedom, Amartya Sen explains that “the exercise of freedom is mediated by values, but the values, in turn, are influenced by public discussions and social interactions, which are themselves influenced by participatory freedoms.” There is no freedom when one group, as a consequence of their actions, instills fear into the hearts of other individuals and uses means — psychological and physical, to dominate them.
We are gradually sliding into a society that’s much less tolerant and less united. This pandemic taught us how tolerance is part of understanding freedom as a whole and how it is associated with a free and civilized society. True tolerance comes with humility, backed by the security of one’s convictions and beliefs. It helps us understand others' point of view despite our strong and discrepant persuasion in the matter.
Crises generally have a way to bring people together. As much as we like to get appalled together, we also want to find solutions unitedly. However, this pandemic has offered us more reasons to disagree on — more reasons to polarize. To disagree on matters such as mask and vaccine in the name of freedom is a sheer disrespect of science and expression of freedom simultaneously, in addition to being irreverent towards those who have either died or still struggling with their life. One of the reasons why people behaved like that is because the pandemic affected us in a very disaggregated way. Some got affected too deeply, while others didn’t. Some of us took it very seriously, whereas others denied that it even existed. Some put their lives at risk to save others, and on the other hand, some couldn’t even do that for themselves — they failed to comply with the basics of a pandemic.
The pandemic also brought to the surface a sense of fragility and a sense of unpredictability. Though we always understood these sentiments, they still stayed buried somewhere deep inside each of us, as either forgotten in the busyness of life or taken for granted until something really colossal happened that turned everything.
The pandemic realistically unearthed the fact that the effectiveness of any democracy is dependent upon the preparedness of its citizens to meaningfully participate in it apart from cautiously voting. Democracy requires each individual to understand the responsibility that comes with freedom — freedom of their actions; otherwise, the consequences could be frightening.
“When our focus and motivation are based only on “my rights” (freedoms), and we neglect our corresponding responsibilities, chaos ensues. Conversely, when our focus and motivation are based on both our freedom and responsibilities, our attitude and behaviors become all about we — an ability to make decisions for the common good.”, says Bobby Albert in his book, The Paradox of Freedom. We won’t lose our freedom by being considerate. On the contrary, the fairer and more reasonably we play, the more our freedoms will thrive for long.
Roosevelt, E., & Pelosi, N. (2019). What are we for?: The words and ideals of Eleanor Roosevelt.
 Sen, A. A. K. (1999). Development as freedom. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
 ALBERT, B. O. B. B. Y. (2020). FREEDOM PARADOX: Is unbridled freedom dividing America?. Place of publication not identified: MORGAN JAMES Publishing