Sunday, July 7, 2019

Dialoguing to Freedom

What comes to mind when you think of freedom or liberty?  As we look at our personal histories, do we focus on the same events or symbols?  I wonder.

If you are from the United States, you might think of the Declaration of Independence, the American Revolutionary War (War of Independence), the Constitution, or the Statue of Liberty.  There are more recent events and symbols, though, that might remind you of struggles against tyranny and external control: maybe the Voting Rights Act, the Civil Rights Movement... or personal triumphs over manipulation or abuse.

What stories of freedom and liberty inspire you?

Symbols:  what meanings enlighten your life?
(Photo Credit:  Liberty Enlightening the World, National Park Service)

As I struggle to understand freedom in today's chaotic world, I have sought guidance from Lady Liberty.  This symbol and its meaning have evolved alongside our growing nation.  The torch, the crown, the book, the chains that are underfoot... each embody different aspects of Our Story.  (Click here to read about the meanings of Lady Liberty.) 

It seems that the pursuit of liberty, truth and justice is often intertwined with Enlightenment: "the ability to give intellectual and spiritual light to a subject, to instruct and seek knowledge."  In other words, to educate and inform.

As the complexities of our modern world explode around us and divide us, I wonder:
  • What enlightens us and our relationships?
  • Where do we become educated and informed?
  • How do we seek unity and understanding?  

Explosions: when have your relationships exploded?
(Photo credit:  The Big Bay Boom is Back, San Diego Magazine)

Personal struggle with control and manipulation may occur within family or with friends and work colleagues.  Respectful dialogue helps me when I don't understand another viewpoint or when I might disagree.  Moments of civility encourage me to freely reach beyond my inner castles and walls which protect.  I have the liberty to to lay down weapons that could hurt you; I become vulnerable; and now, I can seek a nonviolent stance to listen and be understood.

I believe it takes more courage to seek peaceful resolutions than to destroy opposing ideologies.

Freedom to reach out:  are you willing to touch another life?
(Photo credit:  Center for Professional Development)

Freedom and liberty allow the possibility to think and respond differently.  The Either-Or mindset of "I am right" and "You are wrong" can shift into Both-And thinking:  is it possible that both of us have differing aspects of the truth and a possible solution?

Declaring independence from ways to manipulate or control others opens us to the possibility of being liberated.  Moving towards an understanding that our limited resources don't need to be Divided Up... but Shared... frees us to look for solutions that benefit all.  We become "We the People" not through our divisions but through the liberty that occurs when we become united... the freedom to seek the Truth together.

As each country celebrates its origins, may we become enlightened by learning what it means to be... Canadian (July 1 - Canada Day), American (July 4 - Independence Day), French (July 14 - Bastille Day).... and all of the other ways that humanity has yearned for freedom and liberty.

Larry Gardepie

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