When I run, I feel free. When I fly in an airplane, I feel free. Yet my legs always tire and the earth always pulls me back to her. I am at her mercy, my wings powered by the energy drawn from her center.
When I travel, I feel free. Yet I always return home, to the one country who will keep me. When I write, I feel free. Yet my expression is stunted by my inhibition and your interpretation.
A country can stand for freedom, but it will fail. It will fail by indoctrinating our minds and seeking control over our bodies and breaking our spirits with its own brokenness.
What is true freedom? I dare say it is not a place on a map, but freedom from judgment and expectation, from anxiety, depression and despair.
Because my country provides me peace, I am free to seek inner-peace. Because my country grants me freedom of speech, I am free to speak my voice. Because my country believes in dreams, I am free to dream. Because my country seeks progress, I am free to progress. Because my country allows me choices, I am free to choose non-attachment. I can choose freedom from attachment.
But that’s the light side, the reaching-for-sun side. Beneath the surface, these roots run deep, dark and gnarly.
I was helping in my daughter’s kindergarten classroom two days before summer vacation. The teacher gave a lesson about the origins of our country. He explained that people left their homes and took boats to “the new world” because they no longer wanted to be “owned” by a European king and America was “the land of the free.” I nearly cried for the bittersweet hope of it, the dream of it, the epic failures and successes of this country built for dreams, by dreamers. For the promise of the future, held in the hands of those 22 young Americans, a true melting pot of cultures and ethnicities, on the cutting edge of Now.
But I cringed as the teacher had to repeat the assignment to a little black boy who wasn’t following instructions. The children were to draw themselves on the boat, coming to America, the land of the free.
We know people came to this land to be free. We also know they came in chains. They came to steal and kill and make fortunes and live the dream. They wove the fabric of our nation with discrimination, racism, and hope. This country has never not broken hearts. But, a country is essentially made of humans, and so, like the human body, we can heal. But we have to want and work to heal, we have to cast our votes accordingly.