Sunday, July 28, 2019

what do we mean by "freedom"?

competing stories of who we are

we Americans look to competing stories to tell us who we are,
the story we believe reflects both we see in the mirror, 
and who we want to see in the mirror,

“freedom,” as a word, unites us,
what we mean by “freedom” scatters us,

many see to believe freedom is individual license,
to indulge our whims, our senses,
the more money, the more things,
the more things, the more happiness,
we look after #1,
the size and doodads of our vehicles 
the proof we have value,
we crave to live the story of the rich and famous,
as if they have an answer that eludes us,

freedom can also mean to discover one’s own gifts
and fashion a life where our choices make a difference
in our work, in our relationships, in our childrearing,
in the way the divine speaks to us, or doesn’t,
we can seek to live the story of a Martin Luther King or a Steve Jobs,
each makes the world different, and doesn’t just consume,

capitalism, without eternal rules, cares only for profit,
and the climate breaks,
socialism, without private initiative, can deaden possibility,
and we can stagnate,

Ronald Reagan poisoned the culture 
with his often-repeated mantra
that government is the problem,
so when we need to work collectively, 
his lie still flummoxes us,

Christianity, Judaism, Islam, call us to know that our story
is also wrapped up in the stories of “the least of these, our brethren,”

Jesus used parables, stories to call us to be better,
how sad we too often use stories to celebrate being lesser. 

by Henry H. Walker
July 20, ‘19

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