by Santa Shaara
Freedom can't be defined by the dictionary; it ripples in the winds of change.
|Writer's Cramp: Write in a poem or an essay about how important freedom is to you.
Freedom is putting on my shoes, whichever pair I want. They can be red or blue, brown or black. They can be my Western boots or my English ones for riding. Or the shoes can be sandals or thongs. Perhaps if I’m lazy, slippers will do. And if I’m housebound for a day, my feet can be bare as a newborn baby’s. That is freedom -- the right to choose.
Everyday I get up from my soft and comfortable bed, and I have endless choices. I can wear the shoes I choose, I can dress in slacks or a dress, I can make coffee or tea, dine on cereal or toast. Freedom is about options, the delicious alternatives we have in this ample lifetime of choices.
In Germany, there was a time when some had to wear black bands around their arms that labeled them by religion and heritage. There was a time when those people were quarantined from others and jailed in slums and deprivation. There was a time when those people were killed, and they had no choices in the bands, the quarantine, or their death. That is the absence of freedom. That is freedom turned into a morass of horror. Freedom cannot deprive some while giving to others.
Yet, freedom seems so clear-cut. It seems as if it were black and white -- like the bands which circled the arms in Nazi Germany, but the lines of freedom are not pronounced with lucidity; they waver, a flag rippling in the breeze. The lines of freedom blend alarmingly.
Many say that freedom is when no employer issues demands upon your hours, when the dress code is pure and simply not there, when no taxes are stolen from your checks, and when your words are free to roam the streets and other people’s minds without censure, liability, prison, or death.
I have the freedom to choose my shoes. Yet my sandals would be frowned on with snow lying snuggly on the ground. I would have the freedom to wear them because it would be my toes which froze. Yet, I could wear my sandals in the snow. I have that kind of freedom. And the slippers, I suppose, could take me to the stores, but in my place of employment, I do not doubt that I would not last with fuzzy pink bunny ears wrapped tightly round my toes. Still, I have that freedom to select – frost-bitten toes and unemployment. It is my right, my freedom to choose.
But freedom wavers in and out. With my frost-bitten toes, lacking insurance due to the departure from my job, would I freely gain the medical treatment of my choice? Without my paycheck, what hospital would smile at my freedom to choose? Would the doctors and nurses heal my toes and send me on my way with tender words of liberty and free will?
The lines splash, the colors run, the banner snaps in the breeze. Freedom is my right to choose when I do not step across that line, yet the stripes on the banner often blur in the winds of change.
So many freedoms we are given in this land of the United States, so many God-given freedoms – the right to breathe, the right to speak, the right to drink needed water. I live in a country that grants more freedoms than many others. I have the right to select my vocation, my place of residence, my mate or lack thereof. I am fortunate. My freedoms are the efforts of long battles for such rights. I am thankful to be the recipient, and I do not take such freedoms lightly.
I slip on my blue tennis shoes and march to the door. The sun shines down on my face and shoes, and thus, I have the freedom to set forth on my day. Unlike those who wore the black banded label, I have the right to journey forth from my neighborhood. I have the freedom to breathe in and out, to walk to the store or drive, to mail a letter, to sing a song, but I have responsibilities, as well.
My blue tennis shoes are a minor privilege. I wear them to work and to the store. They are simply the reminder that I have responsibilities to hold on to this reality, for I must watch the wavering of the stripes, the fading of the lines. I must study the blurring that my government imposes, the shadows that smudge and obscure, the darkness of the black arm band which threatens to wrap our eyes in lies.
Freedom has never been a dirt-drawn line. It wavers and bucks like an unridden steed. Freedom needs our constant attention and discernment. It requires the watchful eye, the probing mind, the question of “Why?” For with every new tax, a small part of freedom dribbles away. With every newly established law, the smudged line becomes a wavering of choice, and I feel it. I am aware and watchful.
Freedom is my daily breath of abundance. It is the sanctity of happiness and life. It is the right to choose -- every moment of every day. Freedom is the color of my shoes and the color of my life as long as I remain watchful, studying the ripples.