For many years now nothing has ever fascinated me more than the concept called “freedom”.
Thank God freedom is more than a concept. It does really exist and you can even say freedom is a state of mind. I always associated freedom with dictatorship, theocracies and repressive regimes where people can’t live in freedom. Where people go straight to horrible jails when they open their mouths and tell the truth. Where expressing your opinion will bring you torture and pain. So you’d better watch out before you speak or write? Countries like that..
Living in freedom. It’s a gift we should cherish and cultivate. Never take it for granted. My friends and family, we all live in free countries. Okay, it’s not perfect; you could even say The Netherlands and Spain, both democracies, starting to become more and more repressive since Dutch police will come and visit your house because of tweets saying you’re against the organisation of centres for asylum seekers in your village. In Spain you’re not allowed to protest peacefully without the chance of being arrested or excessively fined which is starting to become more common and is even now regulated by law. You see, freedom will never be static. It constantly is in motion. While most of us just want to live in freedom and express themselves freely and respectfully there are powers which are eager to cage us and rob us from our freedom. And not only the ones we ourselves are giving power to, like damaging politicians, huge corporations, old societal systems, such as the concept of property, and, yes even to Islamic terrorists. But also the impediments we put on ourselves to live a life in freedom. Our personal journey to freedom we sometimes need to battle. Like Bob Marley sang in Redemption Song: “Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery; None but ourselves can free our mind.”
The many aspects of freedom, shows this masterful poem of the Lebanese poet Khalil Gibran “On Freedom” (from “The Prophet”, published in 1923). I’m really fascinated by these words, which are timeless and still of great value in the modern world. They show us: Freedom is something we’re all looking for, some of us so desperately they chain themselves with it. I had to read this poem several times to fully understand it and still I keep on discovering more meanings. Yet, it doesn’t matter if you can’t grasp it completely:
Find your own freedom.
And an orator said, “Speak to us of Freedom.”
And he (the prophet) answered: At the city gate and by your fireside I have seen you prostrate yourself and worship your own freedom, Even as slaves humble themselves before a tyrant and praise him though he slays them.
Aye, in the grove of the temple and in the shadow of the citadel I have seen the freest among you wear their freedom as a yoke and a handcuff.
And my heart bled within me; for you can only be free when even the desire of seeking freedom becomes a harness to you, and when you cease to speak of freedom as a goal and a fulfillment.
You shall be free indeed when your days are not without a care nor your nights without a want and a grief, But rather when these things girdle your life and yet you rise above them naked and unbound.
And how shall you rise beyond your days and nights unless you break the chains which you at the dawn of your understanding have fastened around your noon hour?
In truth that which you call freedom is the strongest of these chains, though its links glitter in the sun and dazzle your eyes.
And what is it but fragments of your own self you would discard that you may become free? If it is an unjust law you would abolish, that law was written with your own hand upon your own forehead.
You cannot erase it by burning your law books nor by washing the foreheads of your judges, though you pour the sea upon them. And if it is a despot you would dethrone, see first that his throne erected within you is destroyed.
For how can a tyrant rule the free and the proud, but for a tyranny in their own freedom and a shame in their own pride? And if it is a care you would cast off, that care has been chosen by you rather than imposed upon you.
And if it is a fear you would dispel, the seat of that fear is in your heart and not in the hand of the feared.
Verily all things move within your being in constant half embrace, the desired and the dreaded, the repugnant and the cherished, the pursued and that which you would escape.
These things move within you as lights and shadows in pairs that cling. And when the shadow fades and is no more, the light that lingers becomes a shadow to another light.
And thus your freedom when it loses its fetters becomes itself the fetter of a greater freedom.