Freedom is such a lauded after notion. People now believe it is inherent, inborn, and should never be challenged by another. Yet, I wonder. I wonder if those who climb atop their soapboxes, have they ever truly pondered what the cost of freedom truly is? In a world scared by an invisible enemy, too many people have sacrificed other lives, common decency, and genuine humanity to demand a notion, a word, a concept they have never had to fight, give, or lose everything for.

Freedom comes in many forms. Examples have been given for as long as time, history, moments have been recorded. From Christianity’s sacrificing the Garden for the freedom of one bite of a glistening apple, to the Roman Conquerors, to the birth of the United States from the English monarchy, to groups of men and women burned, hung, drown, pressed, and imprisoned over allegations of witchcraft. From slave ships and civil unrest in a country divided because of skin, to the world battling each other, tyrannical beliefs, genocides, and men, women, and children fleeing in the blackest of nights, all in search of “freedom.” These lessons, these moments in time, stories passed down, taught in schools, remembered but untouchable now in modern day, they seem to have been so quickly forgotten. People now are so hell-bent on getting what they want, when they want it, without contemplation to anyone else involved, has left the bitterness of “freedom” in the mouths of those they force to suffer for their misguided egos.

Freedom, no matter what scale it comes in, costs. The price of which is too oft one many would not willingly pay. Still, for others, the heroes of the world, the humble, the thoughtful, the meek, the weak, the silent, the beaten, the broken, we have paid the ferryman’s toll. Many times, over for some, but the blind ones, the ignorant, self-serving, abusers, manipulators, and indecent people, they always seem to commandeer the boat, and no one speaks out against them. All this done in the name of “freedom.”

I find myself wandering down the path in my mind, wondering continually if anyone pauses to think genuinely about the people who have passed before us all. Are they watching the degradation of decency, love, empathy, and compassion in our world? Or have we caused them to weep in mourning or turn their heads in shame, unable to look upon what we have twisted their sacrifices into? My money is on the latter, for I carry within me an old soul, and I feel deep abiding shame, sorrow, and embarrassment of what has become of humanity in these times.

This is not about war, soldiers, race, politics, or any other major issue we all tend to put into showboating, grand-standing crosshairs. This is about all the silent screams rising up from the forgotten, the silenced victims, the perishing of the souls which make up the fabric of our being. Why do we no longer listen without hearts and ears to the small, powerful truths our children utter? What are their cries ignored and the posturing lies of the cynically vindictive abusers given power? How have we come to the point in which those who hurt, maim, kill, and destroy innocence garner more weight than those they beat down and defame? When will the end come for their power and when will the world begin to reopen their hearts to the way we should have always been?

Freedom for those children, for the abused women, for the beaten men, for the sufferers, is never something they would bleat about like sheep. Freedom for them is a treasure which cost them, cost me, pieces of the Self, pieces of our souls. Those pieces never return, it is the price paid, but it is one we learn to live with. Freedom is not a luxury, it is not a privilege, it is not a prize; it is the partitioning of the heart, mind, and soul, the breaking and rebuilding of Self against abusers who steal it in a look, word, or action, and many times all three. Freedom is a lifelong battle within and without the self, throughout the pain of life. Freedom is a bittersweet sacrificial lamb, but it is never, ever, FREE.

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