Freedom: A Loaded Word

You know what? I used to think I was free. I used to think more and more people where I live were becoming freer. I used to think the world was becoming a better place.

Lost

I can remember feeling especially happy to live in a place where people were free to worship or not worship any faith tradition, where people were free to love whoever they wanted to love, where people could have families or not, where people could live wherever they found beauty, where judges strove to put their personal beliefs aside and be neutral, and where people could have respectful debates over policies. Heck, people could even go to the grocery store and expect the worst thing that would happen would be a long line at checkout.

Interestingly, this was posted by someone with different views from me, but I think it’s true for all of our viewpoints.

I felt like “progress” toward equality for all was being made, right during my lifetime. The water fountain labeled “Coloreds Only” was gone from the Alachua County courthouse, in my lifetime. As a woman, I could play any sport I wanted and attend any school I wanted, in my lifetime (I gave up on being a veterinarian because women were not allowed in vet schools). My gay friends got married – legally – in my lifetime. Buildings were made accessible to people who could not climb stairs, in my lifetime. I could live 20 years next to a black family and nothing out-of-the-ordinary occur, in my lifetime. I could live around people who had come to my area from all over the world and it was fine. People could choose whatever identity they cared to present themselves as, even if I got confused…all in my lifetime…and it made me happy.

I could trust that people in politics felt it was their duty to tell the truth and apologized when they made mistakes. I could trust that law enforcement officers respected all citizens and did their best to keep all of us safe. People who joined the military were assigned duties they could be proud of and were respected for what they did.

I was once a Girl Scout.

I didn’t live in fear of my neighbors because I voted for a different Presidential candidate and don’t worship the one they prefer. I didn’t feel in danger because I’m a pacifist, because I don’t like organized religion, and I think no other human is any better or worse than me.

Fuck that. It’s all over. I was so happy when 1984 came and went and Big Brother hadn’t showed up. Oh, Suna. He was just a little late. Lies are now truth. Freedom is a word only for a small subset of the population. Rights are just for old white males. Women are back to being nothing but property for males to use as they please, then are punished for the consequences of what men do to them. Again.

When I’m wrong, I can be really, really wrong. I was wrong all along, too. None of those illusions of mine were real. I gotta go back to reading about how all culture is an illusion that’s just out there to help us feel like life has meaning. I have no clue right now, other than life is suffering. Thanks, Buddha.

Who’s Afraid?

I’m not sure if “afraid” is the right word for what I want to talk about. I think I aim here to make the point that we aren’t all that different from people in societies we’ve been told to feel sorry for because they are not free to be their true selves. What got me thinking about this is all the commentary I’m seeing from all sides about Russia just deciding one day to take over a neighboring country because their leader decided it wasn’t really a country. I’m sure glad Mexico hasn’t done that to Texas, which used to be part of Mexico.

I felt like expressing that I care about the people there by wearing my shirt and watchband that have sunflowers on them. I think the watchband is a handy way to remind me to send of my good thoughts/prayers throughout the day. Of course, I’m also sending good thoughts to the average citizens of Russia, who have no control over what their leadership does. Oh, the poor people of those two countries, right?

Well, wait a minute. Why am I acting like they are any different from me? I certainly have little to no influence on what wars and conflicts the leaders of the country where I reside engage in, even though those may well put me in danger someday. And locally, there’s nothing I can do about fellow citizens who act like they are ready to mow me down just for having the nerve to want to get along with others and not thinking I’m any better than anyone else just because of who my ancestors are.

We love you, Suna, you wimp.

I feel like I live in the land of the free, as long as I am free to agree with the people with the weapons aimed at my property. Yep, just like people in the Ukraine or Russia. I don’t want to harm anyone and don’t mind disagreeing with others, which for some reason is so threatening to my neighbors that I am careful to not go around in public acting all peaceful, caring for people who are different from me, and practicing a different religion from most of them.

I bet the Russian cows love their children, too.

I was always told growing up how sad it was that people in the USSR had to toe the line and reject religion, democracy, and such. I was told how terrible it was that in China they went and killed all the intellectuals or put them in work camps, because they were dangerous with all those ideas and such. No, I was repeatedly told, we Americans are not lemmings who would march lockstep off a cliff if our fearless leader told us to do so. We aren’t married to just one ideology. No, we’re free.

I’m not doing what anyone tells me. I’m a horse, says Dusty.

Look out the window. Is that what you see? I see me afraid to express my thoughts or opinions, even among people I care about and wish the best for. Welcome to the oligarchy. Hey there totalitarian dudes! Enjoy running the place.

I do plan to stick around as long as I can, though. I love this land, and the land doesn’t care who’s in charge. And I love the people in my community. All of them. Nothing will stop me from wanting the best for them. As Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers.” I’m with him.


This was a bit whiny. I know perfectly well that it is way worse elsewhere, like Russia, where I couldn’t complain. I’ve been shaken by Texas elections and probably over-reacted. My main worry is that dissent may be stifled in the future, and we need dissent. On all sides.

Lessons from Mom. Thoughts from Me.

Today I am babbling about freedom, rights and responsibilities from a personal perspective.

I’m 62 years and 4 months old. That’s the age my mother died. It took her a long time to do it, but she finally left her world of pain.

Mom as a little kid. Photo from my sister.

She died of lung cancer (spread all around), caused by a lifetime of tobacco use. She smoked through her pregnancies. She smoked while bottle feeding us Karo syrup or whatever poor people used to feed babies back then. She smoked in the car on every trip our family took. She smoked while cleaning the house, leaving long caterpillars of ash behind on the floor she’d vacuumed. She tried to hide her smoking. She’d smoke out her bathroom window. That led to the intake of our family room air conditioner. She smoked while on so much morphine that she didn’t see the burn holes in her polyester pajamas. It was her last pleasure. It was more important to her than her family or her own life.

I resented her for subjecting me and my family (especially my brother and dad) to her addictions. I wanted her love. She loved alcohol, pills, and tobacco more. Calling Dr. Freud!

I truly resented people who continued to smoke around me, knowing what my family had been through. What a relief when I could actually go to a restaurant or bar and not get sick from the smoke. What joy I found when my friends who were addicted started to only smoke outside, away from their children and elders.

I don’t blame the addicts; no one sets out to become addicted. But I sure am happy to see people behaving more responsibly about it. Sure, their freedom to smoke when and where they want to got taken away. And hey, not everyone they smoked around would eventually get sick. Not every smoker gets lung cancer, after all.

Nonetheless. Laws were passed and establishments made rules. Lots of people were pissed off, but they managed.

Today we have people who appear to care more for their right to potentially spread an extreme contagion more than they care for their families, friends, and communities. I hope it doesn’t take watching a loved one die because their lungs no longer work, like my family had to, to convince them otherwise.

Thoughts from me

Freedoms:

We’re free to drive cars, but not to run stop signs, speed, or go without lights after dark. We’re free to burn trash out in the country, but not when conditions are ripe for fire. We’re free to own guns, but not to shoot others just because it’s fun. We’re free to build a home, but not on someone else’s property. We’re free to worship as we want, but not to force others to do as we do. We’re free to love, as long as it doesn’t harm others. We’re free to hate, even in absence of good reasons to do so.

With freedom comes responsibility.

Note: I didn’t write this to judge you or anyone else. I am not telling you what to do. This is just to explain why I have strong reactions to things going on these days. People get to make their own choices. People have rights. With rights come responsibilities, though. It’s worth thinking about what responsibilities we all have to others.

We Have the Freedom to…umm

Perhaps today is not the best day to talk about freedom, but that’s what the UU Lent calendar said to talk about. Freedom’s always been a hard topic for me, even without being confined to quarters/office and following so many rules and regulations (our home health agency gets new guidelines from the State every day, and we have meetings to go over them; as of now we have to take every client’s temperature every time we see them; glad I’m just the CEO and am sitting at my desk doing my other job).

Still free to enjoy doggie fun and games at the ranch!

Right now, though, I feel really lucky and privileged to be able to be outside and wander around the Hermits’ Rest, so I don’t get cabin fever. I’m still free on my own property.

Land stretching out so far and wide!

As for the concept of “freedom,” I always wonder how other people define it. I don’t feel free at all here in the US. I am afraid to criticize the government aloud, for example. I hesitate to express my opinions on a lot of topics, actually, since I’m concerned that maybe many people are wandering around ready to hurt or shoot people they disagree with. That may be propaganda aimed at people like me to keep us in line, but, this doesn’t seem like a free and safe time to me. I hope I just have healthy paranoia, not crazed paranoia.

Penney is glad she is free to attack and play with June bugs to her heart’s content. She watched this one a LONG time.

So, I plan to continue to concentrate on what I am still free to do, think, and write. I’m glad my blog is not censored. I’m glad my dogs can run and play and make me happy. I’m glad I am free to at least talk to my family and friends still.

Stay safe, and don’t be a paranoid like Suna. You always have the freedom to have another perspective from mine!

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