| Richie Havens' "Freedom," one of the standout performances at Woodstock in 1969, has always given me a rush of emotion. It seemed to emotionally epitomize what freedom is all about. It served as a nexus of the civil rights and antiwar movements.
Back then, freedom seemed to be such a simple thing and so clear to a teenager caught up in the social change environment of the 1960s. There were no gray areas to freedom. Freedom meant "I will do what I want to do and not do what I don't want to do." Well isn't that so "Me Generationish." Sounds kind of spoiled, doesn't it?
For the civil rights movement, it seemed that freedom meant something different. It meant the ability to join the system and partake of its fruits as Euro-Americans had for generations without regard to their color, creed, and other personal attributes. Freedom meant that others in power would not hurt you or put roadblocks in your way because of your personal characteristics as you engaged in the pursuit of happiness or money or what have you.
In many ways, freedom means different strokes for different folks. For some, it means that laws will be applied equally to all people. In some ways, this means that freedom is laws being applied to one's behavior, while for others; it means that laws will not apply to one's behaviors.
Over the years, I've come to understand that freedom is not an absolute right. I may have freedom of speech, but that doesn't mean that I can say whatever I want, whenever I want without regard to consequences. Yes, I can say what I so wish, but someone may make me pay a price if they disagree with what I have to say. I may lose my job, my home, and my loved ones if I say the wrong thing at the wrong time or even the right thing at the right time. I may even lose my liberty by exercising an absolute freedom of speech. It gives meaning to Kris Kristofferson's words "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose." You don't have to worry about the consequences because things can't get any worse.
Freedom to others means having the power to make decisions about one's life. "I will decide all aspects about my life." In its extreme, this way of thinking can also eventually mean that no one else's values or opinions matter either. I will exercise my freedom regardless of its impact on others, not realizing that exercising my freedom may negatively impact someone else's freedom as well. It's not always a win-win proposition.
For some people, freedom means they don't have to deal with reality. Their absolute sense of freedom means they must be free from responsibility as well. "Don't burden me with a job and paying bills. I was meant to be as free as the birds." Their freedom means there is no restrictions on their behavior. That doesn't mean that they can't get a 'helping hand' from you, someone who has given up a piece of their freedom in order to gain some sense of economic security.
Some of the things that seem to bring us freedom can often times be the very things that take away our freedom. For instance, modern technology has freed us from so many boring activities and allows us to communicate instantaneously across the world. We can call Africa with a little device that fits into our shirt pocket. But technology can also be used to take away our freedom. Check out the recent National Security Agency revelations that they have been collecting our data with the cooperation of telecommunications companies. Our purchases and likes and dislikes can be tracked at the push of a button. It seems that large public and private institutions are doing this with our personal information all the time. 1984 anyone?
And the definitions people use for freedom these days are quite perplexing. We send an army half way around the world to occupy a country that has oil. We are killing their people, citizens and fighters, and destroying their homes and villages to preserve our freedom in this country even though they haven't attacked us. Perhaps this is some of that "Me Generation" way of thinking that was discussed above, just a little bit more twisted.
It is important for us to guard what freedom really means. The way people play fast and loose with truth these days, what we accept for freedom in the future may be the thing that we called tyranny in the past. Preserve your freedom! Celebrate Juneteenth!
|June 14, 2006
* A "Pearl who is as solid as a "Rock"
by Dr. Paul Barrows
* La reforma migratoria no merece la pena: No hay que bajar la guardia,
by Alfonso Zepeda-Capistran
* Tibetan Medicine: Amchi K. Dolma,
by Heidi M. Pascual
* 100 Black Men History Challenge Bowl,
by Jonathan Gramling
* James Cameron & the Black Holocaust Museum,
by Valeria Davis
* La fundacion Dr. Roberto Sanchez otorga becas a estudiantes Latinos,
por Elda Gonzalez
* Shabazz City High School graduation: An intersection of lives,
by Jonathan Gramling
* Random Order: The revolution does not begin with your locks,
by Tracie Gilbert
by Ramya Kapadia
*Voices: A taste of Ethiopia,
by Dr. Jean Daniels
* Celebran trayectora de Juan Jose Lopez,
por Elda Gonzalez
* MATC GED Graduation,
by Laura Salinger
* Campus-Community Connection,
by Keme Hawkins and Pam Pfeffer
* GNP's 5th Annual Spring Fling Fashion Show: Simply fashionable and elegant, by Jonathan Gramling
* Global Connections
|Vol. I No. 7 June 14, 2006|
|Celebrate Juneteenth Day
And the Struggle Continues ...
Thoughts about Freedom