It seems fitting that on the day we celebrate Juneteenth, we also take a moment to reflect on our individual and collective relationship to freedom in this country. In the last few months/years/decades/centuries we have seen the lack of freedom for black people made a spectacle and a rallying cry for reckoning with wrongdoings that have never been righted. We have been here many times before, and still Martin waits for his dreams for our country to be realized.
Then there is our relationship to freedom on an individual level–the sense of sovereignty and self-determination that we experience over our life’s energy, labor, intellect and creativity. The questions I sit with today are: what do I still allow to get in the way of my sense of freedom? How much of the barriers to liberation are self-created?
My spiritual practice teaches me that craving and desire to control are at the core of my suffering, and therefore a barrier to my freedom. In addition to this are the incessant mental loops that translate into self-created suffering that take me away from the beauty and gift of this present moment. I have come such a long way to realizing my ancestors’ unfulfilled dreams, and I have also realized a few dreams of my own. Yet, the next stage of evolution for me, and for humanity I’d say, is to understand that freedom is not truly given or taken away. Freedom is a state of consciousness, available to us all, always. I believe knowing this was essential to my ancestor’s survival.
There is no denying that the current paradigm we are living within has been incredibly effective at disconnecting us from this truth. This white-supremacist-patriarchal-profit-rules-everything system we inhabit has been prolific at implementing physical and mental intimidation tactics that deter us from questioning authority, and erase our intrinsic knowledge of our own divinity.
Many of us are waking up to the realization that it doesn’t have to be this way. We are clearing the path for those aspects of our lives that are truly important, learning to shut out the noise, choosing to listen to the quieter voices within and without that remind us that life is sacred. Those of us who do get to choose how to direct our life’s energy (and it is unfortunately too few of us) have a responsibility to do so in ways that uplifts the human spirit, that counters the narrative of competition, violence and destruction. We must continue to find ways to mirror each other’s light in a world that can sometimes seem overwhelmed with darkness.
“It is our duty to fight for our freedom.
It is our duty to win.
We must love each other and support each other.
We have nothing to lose but our chains.”