Freedom is something I sat and thought about more than ever this year around July 4th. There were more than enough reasons to do so.
I get a bit overwhelmed by how important and fragile freedom has become to me. There was a stretch of time when I was being prosecuted for a crime I didn’t commit that I didn’t feel free, so maybe I’m barely qualified to write about it. My six-year experience pales in comparison with those who have always been unjustly confined, figuratively, or literally.
Most people that have freedom can’t/don’t truly understand the far-reaching effects of a “less than free” lifestyle. Those without complete freedom wonder how it would feel to be totally free.
It’s not often that free people and less than free people have that courageous conversation. It’s a tough one to have. Generally, as we listen to each other we struggle with our own filters of what’s right versus wrong, reconcile our own senses and belief systems, and are composing our response at the speed of light. Do we leave time to understand?
How do you start that courageous conversation?
Who do you talk to? What if the other person doesn’t appreciate or understand your good intentions?
You/I often don’t know what to say. Whether we are on either side of the table, there is a similar sentiment.
Whatever is said has to be said with respect. It would be easier not to ever say anything.
We have people that are side by side working and living close together with one person who lives a free life and another person who lives a less than free life. They make a lot of assumptions about each other when they don’t know and they don’t understand – they guess. The longer they guess, the more their assumptions morph into being quasi-factual. Guessing who we are to each other will never allow us to make progress.
At the end of the courageous conversation if you are the one that is completely free, do you feel a responsibility to help the person that you now understand is less than free? How will you do that? Is it your burden/responsibility/opportunity/privilege to take action? How does it change your view of yourself if you do nothing?
Nothing isn’t the answer.
Listening is part of the answer.
Understanding is part of the answer.
Communicating that you care is huge.
Then, I don’t know what you/I do from there, it depends. It’s your call. You have already made a lot of progress at that moment.
Having the conversation is more than most are willing to do.
Freedom is not a holiday.
Freedom is not an event.
Freedom is not red, white, and blue.
I think the best way that I can appreciate my freedom is by regularly listening to the lives of people that feel less than free and seeing what I can do to help. It’s not one day. It’s not a celebration. It’s simply a commitment to genuinely care.
It’s only when we are free that we can be who we were meant to be.
(Thanks to Emma for your inspiration.)