25 January 2009
"Freedom is what you do with what's been done to you."
"Let freedom ring" exists as a magnum opus of fourteen letters, a pièce de résistance constitutionally voiced in momentous speeches, and still, breathed into barren hope by mortal souls in bondage. "Let freedom ring!" remains the blazing outcry bellowing from the unrelenting lungs of freedom fighters.
Gallant men and women, grandmothers and grandfathers, mothers and fathers, and sons and daughters, have long pursued freedom, to abolish the binds of slavery, segregation and injustice.
In the present, most of us reside in countries that have been declared free to themselves, and still, there surely has been unrest, and an unsettling notion that often we do not feel free at all.
Perhaps, it is not so much that we, as human beings, desire to be free, but to feel free.
We have combed through plans of positions, trailing the ghost-like lines of others who look to be free. At times, we even shadow the behavior of those who seem to us to be most free.
Freedom though, is perhaps not to be found as much in physical places, but in internal discretion. We are, and always have been, free to practice love, if not always externally; free to be compassionate, kindhearted, and intimate in feeling; we are free to forgive, to resist hatred and grudges; we are free to be alone and autonomous in our minds, to think independently; free to hope.
Dwight D. Eisenhower knowingly said, "We seek peace, knowing that peace is the climate of freedom." To be at peace with ourselves, is to be free. Peace breathes life into freedom, as freedom gives way to peace.
To be at peace, does not require the unabridged communion, and entire peace of a community, of all that surrounds, but that we embrace harmony with our given circumstances, in satisfaction and in struggle.
Three sunrises ago, I found myself gingerly navigating my battered, stormy '93 Volvo, through a ribbon of back road, absently listening to the scraggly sound of my radio through the awning of organic green. I don't know why I was on the road, still gently propelling the accelerator around half-moon curves, threading my vehicle through the wilderness. I didn't have a destination, just the impression that I didn't want to stop from going somewhere, anywhere.
I cranked my window down, the icy air knifing at my cheek, the wind splintering my hair into partitions that ascended on the winter air like silk kites. Ahead a bridge imperiously rose out of trees feathered with frost, and there on that unchristened bridge, with water beneath my tires, endlessly cascading, twinkling in sun beams, like dreams, I found the conscience of freedom, imminent in my soul.
We may never see the day of omnipotent physical freedom, but I hope that all may ascertain the internal freedom that can set one free, and deliver a most fragrant, lasting peace. Then perhaps, in a symbolic bridge across rugged land, luminous seas, through stretching skies; regardless of color, of culture, of age, history and future, we can borrow the momentous words that Martin Luther King Jr. closed his celebrated speech, "I Have A Dream", with: "Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"
Are you free? Do you feel free? Where do you believe freedom is found? Do you think freedom is available to all; are we born with it, or must we find it? If there is a physical place you feel exceptionally free in, what about that place makes you feel free? Other thoughts?
Special thanks: The photos featured in this entry are courtesy of photographer Mirjan van der Meer whose photographic work I've found to be a most intimate portrait of human spirit, free of detachment, emotive, and stirring, her still frames unedited sentiments, and admirably sincere. Visit the links listed below (following "photo credits") to view more of Mirjan's body of work.
Title Quote: Jean-Paul Sartre
Photo Credits: Photographer Mirjan van der Meer, www.rooze.deviantart.com & www.flickr.com/photos/rooze.