Anachan's Corner

One woman's journey through marriage, motherhood, and the classroom…

Freedom

Written By: Anachan - Jan• 21•14

This weekend, I was faced with the choice of what to read with my junior English class.  I had previously decided on a Stephen Crane story, but with depression caused by the flu, I had the sudden impulse that there was no way I could deal with an even more depressing story about a soldier who gets injured and has to get his arm amputated.

Nope.  No way.  Not going to do it.

In my weakened condition, I settled down on my bed with my teacher’s edition, thumbing through the other selections in the same time period, before stumbling on an excerpt from the autobiography of Frederick Douglass.

What a wonderfully inspiring piece!

Here is a man who, despite adverse and even hostile conditions, as he was punished for even being caught with a book or newspaper within his master’s house, learned to read and educated himself as far as he was able to do.   In the process, he discovered the meaning of freedom.

One thing he states about liberty is that “All nature was redolent of it . . . Liberty! the inestimable birthright of every man, had, for me, converted every object into an asserter of this great right.  It was heard in every sound, and beheld in every object.”  In other words, everything he saw around him reminded him that liberty was or should be the natural state of man, as it was for all other objects, animals, and phenomena in Nature.

I was reminded of this idea today while reading material from today’s Rush Limbaugh broadcast.  Rush speaks of a book by a British author, Daniel Hannan, entitled “How We Invented Freedom and Why It Matters.”  In it, the author explains that there is a major difference between how freedom is perceived on the main European continent and how it is perceived in Britain.  In Britain, things are presumed to be permitted unless there is a law to prohibit them, whereas on the European continent, it is the opposite:  Things are presumed to be prohibited unless there is a law permitting them.

In America, of course, we traditionally follow the first idea of freedom, which makes sense, given our governmental origins stemming from Englishmen.  We see that we are naturally entitled to freedom, rather than receiving freedom by the benevolence of the government.

Douglass, I think, would agree with this viewpoint, rather than holding to the idea that he should have had no freedom until granted it by a government.  After all, years after learning to read and discovering the idea of liberty, he took matters into his own hands and managed to escape from his bondage, starting over in the free state of Massachusetts.

I, too, agree that our natural, God-given state is that of freedom.  We are blessed with the freedom of choice–to choose liberty, with its accompanying responsibility, or to choose captivity, whether by submitting ourselves to others who think they ought to make our decisions for us or by making improper choices which limit future choices.  God would have us be free, exercising our liberty.  Our Adversary, on the other hand, desires our captivity.

In my youth, I, too, felt Nature’s call of freedom and, while nowhere near as elegant as Douglass’ fine prose, wrote a poem.

Little Bird (by me)

Oh, where dost thou fly, little bird, little bird?
Over forest and mountain and meadow.
Though thy wings may be small
Yet thy soul is still strong
To outpace even Winter’s dark shadow.
 
Oh, what is thy song, little bird, little bird?
‘Tis a call of delight to thy fellows.
And though all may be weary
Thy voice lingers on
To refresh as the stormy wind billows.
 
Oh, where is thy home, little bird, little bird?
High above, where I soar in the Heavens.
With the freedom of flight
And the fancy of song—
Though I may not rest here
And I cannot stay long
Yet from tree, nest, or roof,
To the sky I am drawn
To find peace in my God-given haven.
 
I can only hope, as Rush Limbaugh does, that people will recognize the value of our freedom and strive to maintain it, rather than allowing it to be whittled away, bit by bit, until we find we are little better than slaves.

 

Citations (Yes, I know they are not standardized format.):

Our Future Hinges on Our View of Freedom, Rush Limbaugh (I realize that Rush Limbaugh pages expire for non-subscribers, so please forgive me if the link is broken.)
Prentice Hall Literature, Timeless Voice, Timeless Themes, The American Experience, 2000, p. 462.
 

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