- Religion and Philosophy
It Pays to Ask:Have we redefined Freedom? 6th conversation
Have we redefined Freedom?
O say can you see, by the dawn's early light, What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming, Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight, O'er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming? And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air, Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there; O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave, O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?
[ … ]
No refuge could save the hireling and slave From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave: And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave, O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave - The Star-Spangled Banner – written in 1814
Back In 1931
These words were written at the time of the bombardment by the British Navy of Fort McHenry, in Maryland, America.
117 years later, in 1931, these verses became the lyrics for the national anthem of the United States of America. America has since become known as the Land of the Free, as per the refrain line.
We Are 'Lucky," Indeed
While it is currently argued that the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, could now be considered ‘the leader of the free world’, there is one serious question which, those of us who are lucky to be living in any one of the twenty or so countries said to be parts of ‘the free world’ should ask ourselves.
Oh and, yes, of course, it is for a specific karmic reason that we have been the 'lucky' ones living in the relative safety and comfort these countries have offered most of us - just ask any one of the many millions of migrants and refugees who have stopped at nothing to get to their shores.
Still, there is a serious question worth asking: what exactly have we, so far, been free of or free from within the protective cocoon of our free democratic culture and politics?
A military invasion by an alien nation?
An economic covert take-over by an alien nation?
We have so far been free of both and for that we are – or should be – eternally grateful. If you are unsure about this, just have a chat with any migrant, any refugee - people who through the past 60 odd years have gambled with life itself to, firstly reach our shores, and secondly be allowed to start from scratch and reinvent themselves … there.
O.K., but what else are we free of or free from? Seriously, what else?
Each one of us has - or has had - the freedom to dream big and a few handfuls of us have seen our big dream realised.
Does the realisation of dreams, big or small, make us long-lastingly happy? No, not usually, but this line of thinking belongs to another discourse.
Ruled by Laws and Also By Fear
Do we ALL have the freedom to be happy, the freedom to be our ‘authentic’ selves?
Have we been free enough to define, truly define, the meaning of ‘authentic’? Have we been free long enough to understand what ‘authentic self’ really means in opposition to what we are driven to ‘put out there’ as our … personality?
What is clear is that, as children, as men and women – regardless of our age and social status - we have never been and still are not - free of fear.
We are not free of the fear of ridicule/belittlement. We are not free of the fear of not having enough. We are not free of the fear of being overlooked.
We are not free of the fear of not belonging.
We are not free of the fear of not being truly loved by our parents, our siblings, our spouses/partners, our friends, our children - by our colleagues even, knowing that appreciation IS a form of LOVE.
We are not free of the fear of pain.
We are not free of the fear of illness and the associated fear of becoming helpless.
We are not free of the fear of physical/emotional violence.
We are not free of the fear of emotional/physical abuse in our home, in the streets we walk, in the places where we play, shop, socialise, study and work. We are not free of the fear of not living authentically.
We are not free of the fear of death at the hand of another – not even at the hand of our god – nor as the result of the circuitous ways of our own karma.
We are not free of the fear of dying alone. We are not free of the Fear of Death, itself.
So, how free are we, really, those of us who have been karmically ‘lucky’ to end up living in one of the ‘safe’ and ‘free’ countries of the free world, surrounded as much by material goods as we are by laws – and by fear?
A Litany for Survival.
Audre Lorde, a feminist and civil rights activist generally concerned with marginalisation, wrote a poem entitled A Litany for Survival.
For those of us who live at the shoreline standing upon the constant edges of decision crucial and alone
For those of us who cannot indulge the passing dreams of choice who love in doorways coming and going in the hours between dawns looking inward and outward at once before and after seeking a now that can breed futures like bread in our children's mouths so their dreams will not reflect the death of ours
For those of us who were imprinted with fear like a faint line in the center of our foreheads learning to be afraid with our mother's milk for by this weapon this illusion of some safety to be found the heavy-footed hoped to silence us
For all of us this instant and this triumph We were never meant to survive.
And when the sun rises we are afraid it might not remain
when the sun sets we are afraid it might not rise in the morning
when our stomachs are full we are afraid of indigestion
when our stomachs are empty we are afraid we may never eat again
when we are loved we are afraid love will vanish
when we are alone we are afraid love will never return and when we speak we are afraid our words will not be heard nor welcomed
but when we are silent we are still afraid
So it is better to speak remembering we were never meant to survive
We were never meant to survive, wrote Audre Lorde.
By that, did she mean that, we, as individuals - doomed to die one day or another – need not waste our life in a constant state of fear?
Or did she suggest that our enduring species, as limited in terms of inner resources as it has proven itself to be, has acquired a karmically, pre-ordained expiry date – thus, we need not waste our life in a constant state of fear?
More often than not, when we are presented with theories and facts that contradict our personal beliefs, we are quick to find clever ways to dismiss them. However, just as we cannot separate the oxygen from the hydrogen in the sip of water already in our mouth - the Tai chi, Yin and Yang symbol illustrates how forces that seem opposite to each other do, in fact, complement each other - and carry within itself particles of the other. Equally, it is safe to accept that the gender-based energies [ah, yes, they are] of Woman and Man of all ages have been designed to complement each other - all the way from eons back.
It is probably a truism to say that ‘two working as one’ achieve greater power and depth in what they intend to achieve than two working as … two - each independently of the other.
Much has been written about those in true love connections who feel how well they complement each other - as totally as soul mates - in all aspects of their lives.
Though, love is known to come and go even, at times, between ‘soul mates’, our core energy, the energy of our authentic self is always there, should we be willing and able to tap into it … as we breathed.
Do not ignore your core
Our karmic and gendered core energy, such as it is, along with the energy generated by our thoughts, our emotions, by our actions and by our inaction generate our aura. Beyond the energy field of our aura, our core energy - our metaphoric Yin and our metaphoric Yang, depending - has been designed so as to enable each of us, Man, Woman and Child, to develop our true inner nature and to work, love and play from the centre of this energy – that is, from the centre of our authentic inner being.
It makes sense to shrink this down to something catchy like: Do not ignore your core.
Not a Dare but a Challenge
Our challenge, once we choose to accept it, is to overcome the drag from our brain entrenched, as it is, in its familiar ways and the drag from equally entrenched cultural mores.
Society has been co-created since the Dawn of Time along a materialistic continuum. At times it seems to be ‘for the better’. More often these days, it seems to be ‘for the worse’.
It was all made possible, then as now, by the overt efforts of those who felt they had any sort of power and by the tacit acceptance of the multitudes who have preceded us.
By now, after the passing of each new decade, of each new century, an awareness of our authentic self; the connection to an Intelligence beyond us; the tapping into our core energy have become more obscure and therefore more difficult to engineer than ever before.
Sadly, in spite of several decades of political activism and hordes of legislation being passed to enable girls and women to achieve parity in all areas of their lives, a number of enduring cultural assumptions are so deeply rooted that, beneath the veneer or political correctness, in our minds - condoned by agreement or silence – Man of all ages is still equated to strength and power while Woman of all ages is still equated to a degree of helplessness and slyness that keeps them attached to an unwanted degree of objectification.
So What If ...
So, what if we agreed that the true karmic - or the God given - nature of Man was to Protect? Note the uppercase P. What if it were through the power of that specific, authentic male energy that Man - from the beginning to the end - was intended to right all manners of wrongs?
Whether in the arenas of home, school, office, politics, the respect of our planet or the respect of each other in our streets any time of day or night - Protection has never been so limited in scope as to only imply ‘through muscular strength, masculine pride and/or violence of one sort or another.’
Surely, way before jaws become clenched, fist tightened and muscles tensed - literally or metaphorically - Protection in most circumstances demands quite the opposite.
And What If ...
Equally, what if we agreed that the true karmic - or the God given - nature of Woman were to Nurture and Soothe – note the uppercase N and S - on the vast number of fronts on which Nurturing and Soothing are so often desperately needed - and seriously lacking from home to work to politics to repairing the mind, the body, the spirit, cars and trucks to sport, to education, to the planet’s needs – and beyond? What if it were through the power of that specific energy that Woman was intended to ‘get her way’ and right wrongs in her own unique way?
Serious question: on February 26, 2017, a rabbi spoke the words below. Do you think this person was a man or a woman?
“As a rabbi, I want my community members to know Muslims personally, to have ties deep enough to resist the lies, scapegoating and manipulation Trump will use in the aftermath of a major attack.”
Answer: a woman - Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum of New York City’s Congregation Beit Simchat Torah
Anyone For Balance?
Truly, what could be more logical and more empowering for Woman and Man than balance?
The metaphoric Yin and Yang, as used here, is all about balance. It’s all about responding to the shared friction of simply living through our true essence – our specific karmic strength - as we begin organising our household and ourselves each morning for the day ahead.
Such a macro shift in understanding cannot possibly clash with intersectional feminist interests, such as I understood them last time I gave them some thought – quite the opposite, surely.