Freedom. You hear a lot about it these days, they harp on it incessantly. They, you know: the politicians, the law makers, boundary drawers, those blind to irony. Or maybe it is we who are blind to it. I mean, the Liberty Bell is cracked...
Stop to think on freedom but a moment, and the limits loom into view. It is, we say, a free country, but just how free really? Boundaries always lurk in the shadows of the mind, the hidden recesses of a culture. Cultures are defined by these; definitions, edges, these are boundaries, seperating us from them. No society is truly free.
But, free in many ways we are. Free to be different, in a non-threatening way. Free to think, but not to alter consciousness. Free to choose between a million worthless products. Free and encouraged to be distracted. Freedom of the open road, but if you walk, expect the police, the mirrored sunglasses and pointed questions. Don't be caught without any money, or you will be free to go to jail for vagrancy. Free to think but not to act; that is, free to go along in a thousand different ways, but not to protest: expect handcuffs, billy clubs, tear gas. Or else free to be ignored. Free to live anywhere, save on the street, where the cops rouse the sleeping bums. Free, however, and very free, to be poor. Free to change your social position, if you can afford it. Free to sink in free fall to utter loneliness, isolation, poverty, despair, sickness and insanity, but not free to put an end to it all. You are free, you are required, to live. But not free are the basics of life: water, food, housing. Free to breathe dirty air, drink dirty water, and to leave the lights on always.
I guess what I mean is, I no longer understand this word the politicians use. I guess what I really want to know, is what does liberty mean to you? What does it mean to be free?