Picture the face of freedom for one moment. Don’t give it a passing glance, but let’s carve out a piece of time for it in this life, this brief walk often burdened with sorrow, anger, and pain, this flickering flame bursting also with joy, laughter, and the love of family, friends, neighbors, even passing strangers.
Stare into freedom’s eyes and listen to what it has to say, to offer, to what it can show us, the most integral part of not only its survival, but also its triumph.
Freedom is waking up alive in the morning and moving through the start of the day without worrying whether we’ll return home alive after we’ve stepped out the door, gone to work or school, after we’ve completed our day. It’s embracing our loved ones without fearing for their lives, without thinking, “Will she come home? Will I have to claim his body? Will they be safe?”
Instead, our thoughts are full with the nuances of life, of what we need to accomplish, of where we need to go, of what we hope to realize for our loved ones and ourselves.
Freedom is reading and watching the news and seeing justice paid in full, of trusting the collective conscience of our fellow citizens, not only a faction. It’s everyone agreeing we must hold those in power responsible for the grievances and sufferings of our fellow neighbors, no matter how they identify.
It’s making sure there are concrete consequences for breaking that sacred trust, that unspoken pact among humans to do no harm, to be free and let others be free.
If we doubt our neighbor, if we fear or hate those who call the same country home, this planet home, we’re not free; we don’t know freedom.
Freedom is pursuing life without fear.
It’s not holding our stomach from hunger pains, or struggling to feed ourselves or loved ones. It’s not dying from lack of access to healthcare, or having nothing because we gave everything we had to stay alive one more day, only to realize this extra day holds no hope or purpose. It’s not being forced to make decisions detrimental to our well being or that of others, of people we love, in order to survive in a system, in a government determined to destroy us, in a government insistent on stalling our progress and that of our children and grandchildren. Freedom isn’t losing our human dignity because we had no one or nothing.
Freedom is receiving an education liberating our minds, instead of confining our hands.
Freedom is having one more chance even when we make minor mistakes. It’s restoration, not eternal damnation.
Freedom is knowing compassion and giving compassion.
We may think we have freedom if we enjoy the comforts of financial security, supportive family and friends, and shelter from the attacks thrown at our less privileged neighbors. Insulated from the cries of the outside world, from the cries coming from our own backyard, we move through life, deaf and blind, silent to the sufferings of our fellow citizens, or worse, defending those in power who oppress and harm them. Instead of placing our trust in our our fellow humans, we’ve placed your trust in the system, in the powers that have time and time again broken the sacred pact to protect, serve, and uplift.
And because those in power have not paid the high price of abusing that sacred human pact, we shake our heads in shock as the world deteriorates, as freedom wanders farther and farther away from humanity, as more and more people grow angry and restless, some resorting to atrocious acts of violence because that bill has not been paid, an amount counted not in dollars but in the bodies of innocents.
Picture the face of freedom. See it clearly. Grasp its possibilities. Hear what it offers. And know that we do not have freedom.
Because as long as the cries of our fellow woman, man, child, our fellow humans, rises to the skies unheard, without receiving justice long overdue, we will never know freedom.
We only have an illusion of it as our mind and soul is wracked with the guilt of our inaction. An illusion feeding on hopelessness, disdain for humanity, and a lack of vision. Feeding on lies manufactured by those in power. Feeding on our stubbornness to not stare freedom in the face and imagine a future where freedom is finally real in the lives of the people.
Picture the face of freedom. And know and believe it’s worth fighting for.