Freedom’s Just Another Word

What is freedom? I often get freedom and sheer exhilaration confused. Pardon my blonde moment please. I’ve often longed for freedom as a child longs for the last day of school. Or the first day of the fair. Running out the double doors and hearing the handles clang open. The cars lined up to take you away. Yes, it’s the exhilaration of the first day of summer vacation. But that’s not freedom.

So what is freedom? What is it we all long for? Of course it sounds like heaven to take off anywhere you please at any time of the day or night. Yes, it’s good. Not having to ask permission to buy a candy bar feels pretty darn free. But there isn’t always an emotion attached to that freedom. The first time you pay rent on that new apartment doesn’t always feel pleasant. Even if you are just as free on your own as the day you moved in. And the first morning you woke up by yourself with no rules other than your own. These can all be considered moments of freedom but so is the day you have to do your own laundry and cook your own meal.

Most of the time I think of freedom as what it’s not. Freedom is not being told what you can eat or can’t eat. How long you can wear your hair or if you can cut it short. Freedom sometimes seems only as not being held down, not being trapped, or not controlled. If that is freedom, the other side is there also. Because when you are free you must also take care of yourself. Yes I am free to choose my clothing and I am also free to buy it. I am responsible for the care of my household, which most of the time makes me smile since I realize it’s because I’m free.

I am free to speak my mind in a public or private gathering. I am also obliged to receive feedback or comments also. Otherwise that’s not freedom, that’s bully pulpiting or grandstanding.

Freedom is a blessing. I am free to work at a job to earn my own keep. I am free to have friendships and I am free to behave friendly and keep up those friendships.

I don’t want to get caught in the trap of youth that declares freedom but forgets the character of freedom is held firm by responsibility. Freedom is like the river water flowing freely and swiftly. As it rushes down the mountainside, it flows over a riverbed of stone and dirt that has formed over the years. What packed the dirt so firmly? What do the flowers and vines freely grow in? Freedom must have strong resilience and a responsible character. They go together.

For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others. Nelson Mandela

A sense of freedom is something that, happily, comes with age and life experience. Diane Keaton
Yoga is a way to freedom. By its constant practice, we can free ourselves from fear, anguish and loneliness. Indra Devi


There is No Savior Coming

There is no savior coming. The world didn’t end and the planet is still spinning. We waited. We went to our rooftops and waited. Patiently. We looked up and knew our salvation would come. Our justice. Our time of redemption. Our toils and hard days are over. Finally there was a reward for our long labor. Surely, it wasn’t in vain.

Ha! Nothing happened. But what does that mean? No Santa coming down the chimney? No Peter Rabbit? What about Jesus? Or the Saints? Surely someone is coming. They do know we are looking for them, right?

Why has there been no savior? Where is our hero? Better yet, have you looked at ourselves lately? We are acting like children. We are acting like teenagers whose parents are out-of-town. We have the house to ourselves and we’ve wrecked it.

I was thinking about this in the light of Santa and childhood stories and it dawned on me. What if no saviors are coming because they want us to grow up? It’s entirely possible that if there are gods watching over us, they are using tough love. When the fridge is empty, we might have to go to the store ourselves. We might have to wash a dish or mow our own lawn. Jiminy Cricket! Has it come to that?

Yikes! God can’t be that cruel could he? This is all speculation on my part. I don’t have a divine link or anything mystical like that. I do know child development. When a child is on the floor throwing a tantrum, the most effective method is to walk away. We want, as parents, to grab the child and stop the noise, but that’s not the best way for a child to learn. People learn experimentally. Or, in the words of science, empirically.

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We learn by trying. We learn by failing. We learn not to stick our hands on the hot stove because we have done it. Ouch. Hot. Parents that protect their children from failure aren’t really helping them at all. They are crippling them. Children allowed to explore and grow can make better decisions. They aren’t innocent but they are wise. There is a sense of fullness to their energy.

If I were a god, if I were in charge, I would wait. I would not jump in to rescue us. We have not come to the fullness of our learning. We need to experience our own strength. This is not to show us how inept we are or how much we need a big strong god. This is how you grow a strong person. You let them make choices. You let them try.

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