Stayed on freedom? My recent love affair with Eric Bibb (not literal but musical!) has led to me listening to a lot of music which bolsters and inspires me towards a loving response to the place of pain in which my life is at present. I listened to his song Stayed on Freedom while running today (yes, more stress management) and wondered what freedom is?
Is freedom when the world is bent and shaped to your desires?
Then I set to pondering that idea. Would I be free if my personhood were acknowledged and valued in a bill of rights that named forever my right to the final say over my body in all my activities? Well, yes no denying it. Is this ever going to happen? Well, no, no point pretending otherwise. So is freedom for me facing reality and then making my choices?
Who truly shapes our world nowadays? As the OWS movement tells us, and I concur, a tiny 1% of the world (although hey really probably even fewer) currently makes our laws, shapes our expectations through their ownership of media, moulds our very paths of the false choices with which we’re presented. Would you like this debt or that debt? Shall I wrap it for you? Drive through or eat in?
But are those people free? The world may be shaped according to the need to feed their corporations but are they free? Are they able to think freely of the suffering they cause to people globally as we starve brown people to feed white people’s lives and exploit poor white folks to keep rich white folks in cars and holiday homes? How do you manage your own thought processes when you know that the papers you sign every day consign more people to poverty? Can you be free, can you love yourself and others, knowingly causing harm? So do those people simply cut themselves off from their humanity in order to pile stuff upon stuff in their palaces? Doesn’t sound like freedom to me.
On the other hand, as I ran along listening to Eric and avoiding my erratic border collie’s attempts to trip me up, I pondered if freedom, to me, is the decision to make choices within the contraints of what I face? Whatever I face, can I choose my response and exercise agency thus claiming freedom in whatever circumstances are presented to me? I think when we own our decisions, we claim our lives and we find our freedom in the ways we creatively manage our lives amidst oppression. Make no mistake about it, people, we are oppressed. Or at least the way this world works, it tries to suppress and oppress us at every turn.
Can we change this legislatively? Not really. As others have remarked, changing laws is easy, changing attitudes is hard. Changing the attitudes of others, in fact, is a positively impossible feat best not attempted. Changing our own attitudes can definitely be accomplished and then what happens? Choose freedom, choose your response to oppression. Will oppression roll off your back like a wave? Possibly. Will you gain practice in feeling it roll over you as you open your heart and meet it by refusing to be bowed, chained or destroyed by it? Yes, you most definitely will. Will you choose anger? Why not! Will you choose love? Why not? Will you carry a myriad of responses to the multidimensional place of intersections? I hope so.
But will you choose freedom? I hope that even more. I choose forgiveness right now from the bottom of my heart. I choose love to reflect the blessings I feel daily. I choose grief for the loss I feel for the babe who couldn’t stay. I choose to embrace and to open my raw heart to the elements as they pass because that’s living, as I see it. I do not choose to oppress others from my corporate headquarters so I do not fear searching my mind as so many of the 1% must do.
I think many movements, especially the Civil Rights movement in the US paint freedom as a place for us, the Promised Land. Biblical overtones in this atheist’s writing aside, do we really walk to the Promised Land? Is there a Promised Land? I fear not, people, I fear not. I think there is a place in us all though, where we can reach freedom and despite the assaults on our human rights we can live lives of integrity, of love, creativity and beauty because we choose it despite those assaults. I cannot conquer nor change the minds of the people who live in fear but I can change my own mind and how I respond to that fear. I hold compassion for those who live in fear and who would mould the world to hold their fears at bay. I would not like to live in their heads. Three years of dealings with those attitudes have given me a healthy respect for the power of them but a sadness that so many of us are so afflicted by those fears.
I choose love today. What are you choosing?