I am a Slave and I am Free
Once upon a starry night, in a rice field of a far away land, the rusted blade of a sharp bolo finds its mark upon the neck of a white man. Blood erupts in a violent rain, fouling up the wind and staining the dark brown soil, crimson red. A smile of fulfillment ripples across the attacker’s face. He poises himself for a second strike but a hail of bullets pierces and rips apart his flesh. He falls to the ground into a kneeling position, uttering one final word before the light escapes his eyes, “Freedom”.
Today, most of us do not suffer that cursed fate. We do not spend our lives searching and fighting for freedom, only to have it manifest in our final moments. We no longer are shackled and ordered around like dogs to their masters. We are free. But is that truly the case? Are we truly free? Yes, we no longer fight for freedom but does that mean that we are free?
Today we have a choice; decisions are no longer made for us but by us. We no longer dance like puppets on a string but have become the puppeteers of our own fate. But does choice beget freedom? For in choosing we commit ourselves to the goals and consequences of our choice. We submit ourselves to the rewards and trials that the choice is heir to. We accept everything that may happen as a result of our choice. We, in the broadest sense of the word, are enslaved by the choices we make.
Today, we are independent, a nation, a republic, a democracy. We choose our own leaders for our own good. Gone are the times when leaders were appointed for us, we choose our own leaders for our own good. We are a people, millions strong and still growing, with a distinct culture, distinct language and our own distinct hopes and dreams. But does independence beget freedom? For yes we are masters of our own land but are we not governed by international rules and policies? Do we not abide by the whim of those beyond our borders? Isn’t the present and future of our nation but products of the events of the past? For we are a democracy that decides upon things as we see them, but do we not see things as we have been trained to? We are slaves of our own breeding.
Today, cries ring out in the streets. Thousands upon thousands of our countrymen shout with all their might. EQUALITY, LIBERTY, FRATERNITY! Equal rights and options, equal treatment and judgment, equal everything or nothing at all. Men rise and fall by that desire, that devout wish to have as much as his brethren, to stand on equal ground with the top. To be treated as one would treat his own flesh and blood. To be free, is to be equal. But does equality beget freedom? For in fight for equality, our trains of thought are set on similar tracks. Dreams of mountains are swapped for hills, we wish for the sky but settle for the ground, because that is the best way for everyone to stand equal. We are slaves to our ideals.
Today, we refer to ourselves as free. We enjoy this freedom, relish it. We shout unto the wind “carry this message of a man as free as you, the shackles and chains are no more and shall never be again for I have tasted freedom and shall never let it go” but do we really know what freedom is?
In this day and age wherein we are supposedly as free as the wind that carries our voices, there are many slaves: Slaves to power who in turn enslave those within their grasp Slaves to greed of all sorts who consume and hoard and still are never content. Slaves to technology who, without it, lie as cripples without aid. Slaves to the dictates of society, single-minded and afraid of deviation, a constant traveler of the bandwagon, he who mocks and jeers at what is different and whose identity is one with the crowd, apart from it, he is nobody. There are slaves of all shapes and sizes, slaves to the material and the immaterial, slaves to acts and to inaction, slaves to words and to silence, slaves to modernity and to tradition. In this world of slaves, what place does freedom have?
Oh but freedom does have a place. It is in the beating of a butterfly’s wing, in the crash of waves upon the sandy shore, in the swaying of branches to the soft whisper of the wind, in the ceaseless beating of the human heart. It is in the soft cry of a newborn child, in the melody of the forest, in the falling of leaves as autumn passes into winter. Freedom is in everything that is beautiful, in everything that is loved. But what is freedom? Well, just as beauty and love can only be defined by an individual then so is freedom. The fight for freedom rages on in each and every one of us. We can never be truly free lest we are able to define what freedom is to us. In this world of slaves, there is freedom for even in slavery, freedom can prosper.
The brown man kneels there, eyes closed, head tilted to the sky, blood seeping out into the soil, and his final word passes from his mouth into the open air, “Freedom”.
And to the high mountains and plains of rice, to the lakes, rivers, and oceans, and to the air, the clouds and the sky, I shall say in mighty revelry that I am free!