By Miles Jaye
Rick James said, “Cocaine’s a helluva drug!” While I can neither confirm nor deny, I can state with complete certainty and unwavering conviction that freedom too is a helluva drug– it must be. Jonesing for freedom keeps me awake at night. “I wish I knew how it would feel to be free.”
Freedom is a powerful drug. How else can we explain escape attempts through cold, dark, wet swamps, risking death in the name of freedom? How else can we justify decades of marches, protests, sit-ins, boycotts and riots in the name of freedom and justice?
As with cocaine, the desire for freedom is strong, the need– nagging and persistent, and the pursuit of both costing countless lives throughout many years. The difference is, cocaine induces an unnatural state in man… freedom is man’s natural state, a state far too often denied.
When Patrick Henry said, “Give me liberty or give me death.” in 1775, it’s not likely he knew the American Revolution would begin a few weeks later. It’s even less likely he could have known nearly 7,000 men would be killed in action.
It’s estimated another 10,000 perished due to disease and infection as prisoners of war, all fighting for freedom. Henry’s words signaled a belief that a life without freedom was not a life worth living.
What is this thing called freedom we feature in song titles, book plots, movie themes, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights? Freedom is a thing– a concept that renders one untied and untethered, without restriction of thought, speech, movement, actions, or behavior.
There is no obstruction to our will or choices. We are free to move about as we wish, free as a bird. The lyrics to the theme song “Born Free” simply say, “Born free, as free as the wind blows, as free as the grass grows, born free to follow your heart.”
Americans proudly claim we are the land of the free and home of the brave and for some that may be true.
In the land of the free, we are free to be brilliant, and equally free to be imbecilic or idiotic.
In the land of the free, we are free to be gracious, and equally free to be dispassionate and unkind.
In the land of the free, we’re free to be honest, and equally free to be villains, deceitful and corrupt.
This, for me, explains the extreme political divides, xenophobia, homophobia, and every form of racism.
In a so-called, Nation of Laws, we must acknowledge that with or without consequence, we are free to disobey them, just as we disobey the Ten Commandments. It’s really rather simple, in America, people have the right to be vile and ignorant.
Herein, lies the arguments of the Mask v. No Mask, Vaccine v. No Vaccine campaigns. Do not impinge upon our freedoms. Nestled deep within the Big Lie is freedom of speech, the belief that you can’t tell me what to say, nor can you tell me what to believe– whether I actually believe it or not.
As much as freedom is a drug, it’s also a tool, and a deadly weapon in the hands of the unyielding. It can be swung like a hammer or wielded like a double-edged sword–freedom cuts both ways. We desperately seek freedom; however, freedom alone is not enough.
The hammer is meaningless, worthless, without something to build. The sword has no real value without a worthy cause, and alone it does not embody valor or courage. The bearer of the weapon must be valiant, brave, fearless.
Martin Luther King, Jr. likened freedom to a bell when he said, “Let freedom ring.” but we can get so caught up in the emotion of his words and King’s brilliant oratory that we miss his meaning. What exactly is meant by let freedom ring? Perhaps he asks us to let freedom ring in our hearts, no matter what evil befalls us, let freedom ring.
“Nobody’s free until everybody’s free.” –Fannie Lou Hamer
“I know where I’m going, and I know the truth and I don’t have to be what you want me to be. I’m free to be what I want.” –Muhammad Ali
That’s what’s on my mind!