Today my daughter said something that rather took me by surprise. She is the kind of kid who studies everything with zeal, checks her sources and tries to get a balanced view on everything. No shallow educational experiences for her. As a matter of fact, she has become such an ardent historian that I often find myself referring to her for new sources of information. Her specialty is American history from Colonial Times to the Civil War. As we were ending our school day, though in fact it never really ends, just changes, she surprised me with the comment: “We were a much freer people when this country began than we are today.” Hmmm. Just what a concerned mother wants to hear. But I think her perception isn’t far wrong. .
In years past, Americans had to fight for everything. We had to fight to own land, for our freedom to express our faith, to speak and write what we thought, freedom from bigotry at all levels, freedom to educate our kids as we thought best, and freedom to rise higher than the limits imposed on us by others.
But today the loss of freedom I am referring to – which my daughter may not have even considered – is the freedom of will. Everyone is so busy – everyone seems pushed to the limit. Time for deep thought – Nope. Time for art – Nope. Time to prioritize our lives and our loves – Nope. Amazing that the people in ages past created remarkable works of art, profound and lasting documents which changed the world, considered their lives and the direction humanity was taking in long ponderous conversations, but today we are lucky if we have time for a sitcom….certainly no time for creative innovation beyond the technological kind. And it isn’t just about a loss of “time”, it’s about our energy level, our capacity for deep meaningful – anything. Is this what “freedom” is all about? Freedom from our best, most creative selves?
Like I said, I was surprised by my daughter’s comment. I know she was talking about the legal and fiscal system in our country and the knots we have tied ourselves in, still, I think the proposition has a profound base. It is a very good question. Though I do not have the answer, I think it is a question worth asking: Are we free?