In 1970, my young America defined “Freedom” as “Sex, Drugs, and Rock ‘n Roll.” It wasn’t long before we realized that the ensuing HIV outbreak, drug and alcohol addictions, and hearing losses depleted our Freedom instead of extending it. It was then that we discovered that “Freedom” can also mean dealing with a chronic disease, breaking the addiction, or buying a hearing aid. “Freedom” was not, as our forefathers told us, easy to achieve.
As an obsessive/compulsive, I have just metaphorically slammed my out-of-control emotional car into a wall to stop the forward careen into insanity. This goes right to the subtleties of that simple, overused word. You have the freedom to do anything positive you want and unfortunately, the freedom to self-destruct. You do not, as many people think, have the right to take anyone with you, but that’s another essay.
I’ve been free of a job for 25 months now...exactly. The first four months were fairly nerve-wracking as I only had Pension income and then I got onto Disability pretty fast, at 4 months. I am free because I am attached to the Government, who reads all my e-mails and postings to make sure I still deserve Disability. I do. I could earn up to $1,000 more a month, but I don’t have the energy. I may have to figure out how to do it eventually, but not now. Free all day. All damned long, long day. I am free of children. OK, so I don't have to bail anyone out or pay for college, but I know that I missed a lot of joy and love. But, I was free to look at my husbands and realize it would not be a good idea to bring a kid into those marriages. I freely chose. (And Ethan and Molly, it was the right decision for you two. The girls are great.)
I’ve been free of men for 18 years, mostly because none of them wanted me. But, then, I was free to consciously take a 10 year break. Last year, I freely chose to go sniffing around the male genetic pool again and discovered that...they still freely don’t want me, but that means I get to keep all the money. NYAH! NYAH! And when I’m settled on Medicare in October, I can move pretty much wherever I want in the United States. Of course, with Multiple Sclerosis, I’m not going to be a real big explorer and adventurer of wherever I land.
William Wallace’s dying breath at the end of “Braveheart” was used to scream: “Freedom!” We would like to think that we would then take up the banner and march onward toward a better world where we were enfranchised and empowered. Buildings powered by the sun. Healthy children eating Granola and all races equal and happy. But not long after that movie came out, a Right Wing probably dear to Mr. Gibson’s conservative heart, started to whine that the Freedom of others was encroaching on their Freedom and that the number one concern should be the majority. Of course, they didn’t realize that whites are NOT, thank God, the majority in the world. One of the reasons that Conservatives are attacking education is that they need a malleable, dimwitted electorate to get power. Education teaches Freedom and that makes Education an enemy to be destroyed. It is easier for them to be in power if they can pervert the meaning of words like Freedom toward they own ends which is purely, simply, self-profit and nothing else.
With the collapse of the economy and the stunning raise in Medical costs encouraged by a corrupt Government, so much of Freedom depends on having money. For those who ran up their credit card debt, laughing that they would worry about it tomorrow...tomorrow came. Thank God for the Freedom that bankruptcy can give you...providing you understand that you will not get a loan or a credit card for a long, LONG, time. You will not be free to choose whatever you want, only what you can afford. And remember, before you join the Banking industry, that to be a thief is to rob others of their Freedom.
Many religions say that we have Free will and can choose to live forever serenely in Heaven or burn for eternity in Hell. Gee, guys! I wonder what the smart choice would be? I wonder if you are actually giving us a choice or loading the deck. Excuse me if I stay Unitarian and don’t let anyone try to manipulate me for a ticket to eternal life. The nanosecond anyone says you can get to Paradise if you give them money...RUN! Make the Free choice and run. But then, if you have been “properly educated” to be mindless, you can freely choose to follow these people. Just don’t try to take away the freedom of other religions.
Freedom has a price. “Give me Liberty or give me Death.” As the protesters in Africa and Arabia are currently discovering, that’s pretty much the choice. Part of me wants to sit here safely in my arm chair, sipping cocoa and part of me wants to be the gentleman standing in front of the tank in Bejing. He had a bag of groceries and was probably a common worker heading home to cook dinner. The moment arose where he could become great, a nameless icon for humanity for generations to come and DAMN! He stepped firmly into his place in history without a thought. He might have had regrets later, in prison, but he knew the cameras were clicking and the whole word was watching. He saw the figure of History, in her golden armor, holding her sword of truth high and realized that he had been chosen to do this and freely chose to stand for his beliefs. Thank you, Master, for your lesson.
Sorry to have gone on so long, but I’ve just scratched the surface of the topic of “Freedom.” Think about it tonight.