Freedom is a strange concept.
Most of the time if asked: “What is freedom?”
It would be answered as if an obvious notion: the ability to do and say and act as one wants and pleases exactly how and when one likes.
If this were entirely true then the freest people on earth would be Lindsay Lohan and the entire celebrity culture of the West.
I question freedom because for the poor, or for the working mother or for the young person who can’t afford to travel freely because of debt or job obligations or lack of money this definition of freedom as physical mobility leaves a lot of disenfranchised from the concept of freedom.
For those who live with the threat of violence or retribution for speaking out openly about their opinions or about their sexual orientation or political beliefs, then living in the frame of “public” would leave most of us outside of the West also outside this concept of freedom.
What is freedom then for those of us who can’t define ourselves as free by these standards?
This is a question I ask myself often as I asked myself often as a child because I was raised in an environment where physical mobility was limited, expression of opinion was impossible, and we lived for others and not for ourselves.
If I, like many others, am not able to travel, or unable to express myself on the street or on TV or in any public way, then what is freedom to me? If I as a woman can be violated as I have been violated, if I can be repressed as I have been repressed, if I, like millions of others today have lived or are living as slaves as I have lived as a slave without choice, without option, without worth except for what I can do or give…then what is freedom? If everything outside of me can be attacked or taken away…what is freedom?
My freedom was and is still silent resistance of thought in the face of violence where ever it finds me. However even more than my resistance to anyone or existence counter to anything is the definition of my freedom as my interior life beyond who I am physically and what I have. My interior is mine and in its quiet is also my freedom. My feelings in my sexuality are also my freedom despite a history of violence. My choice to love inside my soul has been my freedom. My prayers with closed eyes and clenched fists or open hands are also a part of my freedom. My mind reaching beyond itself is freedom. Keeping secrets have also been freedom for me. My eternally loud smile is my freedom as my tears falling unexpectedly while hearing others tell their secret stories is also my freedom. Emotion is freedom for me. Feeling is freedom. Living is freedom.
I am one of the lucky ones that can move where I wish these days but this does not define my freedom. Public display of life does not make me free even if I express myself in many public ways, I know that I live in a country where many things are limited, journalist are jailed and teenagers go to prison for kissing in a photo posted on Facebook. I live in a world that is deeply limited and repressive to women (because of danger lurking behind every corner and lack of faith in us as a people) and by that default also limiting to the possibilities of man as well, but I still feel free because I redefined what freedom is to me even if tomorrow my hands can be tied and my body dominated or my movements blocked but as I learned early in childhood, no matter what is placed in front of me, I am free with my quiet infinite spirit.