FREEDOM MONTH: DAY 29: “I have never thought, for my part, that man’s freedom consists in his being able to do whatever he wills, but that he should not, by any human power, be forced to do what is against his will.” ― Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Two things come to mind when I read this quote. The first is a series of paperback books I read when I was 12 or 13. They were a series of books written about slaves and written in the late 1950s. They were well-written and had a huge impact on my life. I remember travelling into and through the South years later, even though they still had a lot of segregation going on, it scared me to see how firmly they were still committed to slavery and all aspects of racial indoctrination. There were people who were forced, for years, to live lives that did not belong to them, just as we forced Indigenous Americans to live in places they did not naturally live and to adopt lifestyles that were foreign to their superior understanding of the land on which they lived.
In both cases, slaughter and horrible consequences ensued for any person who attempted to maintain his freedom and self-hood.
The same is true of the military, in any nation. We force people to become automatons, trained to fight and kill other humans. I have never met a person who comes out of that experience without severe damage to their spirit and psyche. We are not naturally bent on killing. It is a product of being programmed to hate and fear others. It destroys the person who does it without a great deal of help post-killing to adapt to becoming human again and accepting what was done.
These are the kinds of things we have seen women and children forced to do in abusive homes, all over the world. And still, we wave flags and claim “land of the free” around here. I don’t see it, but I have always had a different view.
None of us is supposed to wield power over another human life. That is not the way we are built. When that happens, we see how damaging it is for both the person in power and the person who is subordinate to that power. It is very, very troubling. In current times, we are (again!) addressing the abuse of power men hold over women and the issues of racism on a global scale. It is a never-ending fight for us to find footing that is equitable and to allow ALL of us to walk free from force of power that does not match our inclinations.
It would be hard to find anyone who has not been part of this tyranny. Those who perpetrate learned to do what was done to them, a never-ending cycle that we can only hope to heal…one person at a time, one situation at a time. May we all stop participating in the abuse of each other and adopt a more welcoming plan to act on true freedom.