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Celebrating Freedom?

As we enter the celebration of July 4th in the US, a celebration of freedom, independence, and a coming together, my heart is heavy with witnessing the pain and separation still present to this day between US citizens. Despite the Constitution recognizing this freedom and equality of all its citizens, the experience of many is far from it.

So, this weekend, I will consider what freedom truly means. Am I free if my brothers and sisters still live in chains?

If my freedom means the oppression of others, is that freedom? Am I genuinely independent if oppression is still at the heart of many systems supposedly here to fight against oppression? How do we build a system that can genuinely celebrate freedom for all? Freedom of expression in all ways and forms.

As in this photo, what I "see" means freedom for a few and oppression for others. I must see the shadow, understand it, and heal it.

Founding fathers Native Americans

To me, freedom comes with a lot of responsibility and accountability. One cannot be detached from the others. Being free does not mean I can or should harm others with my words or actions. Being free does not mean I am or should not be accountable for my actions.

Responsibility. Accountability. Freedom.

That is what this day means to me. Recognizing the oppression of minorities, of BIPOC, of LQBTQ people, of the poor, the mentally ill, the elderly, etc. Recognizing the lack of freedom and independence for (too) many.

Because they cannot live freely like I do, just because of who they are, their lives are way more at risk than mine. Knowing that some do not have access to good education, good food, good water, good healthcare, and a good and safe community.

I know my risk of getting shot if I walk at night in my community or drive my car is statistically way less because I am white.

I know that walking with my wife hand in hand is less risky because I am heterosexual.

I know protesting for my rights is safer because the system protects me more than others.

I know that because I live on stolen land and the land of my ancestors was not stolen, I need to fight for those who still live in a world that doesn't recognize their rights to their ancestral land.

I know that even during a worldwide pandemic, I am safer because my body is healthier, my mental health is stronger, and my privilege allows me to enjoy this slowing down in ways so many cannot.

That is why my responsibility is to fight for those who are oppressed—those who are less free, less independent, more at risk, and more vulnerable. That is the responsibility of my freedom, and that is where I need to be accountable.

I am reminded of all this in the depth of this teaching of my elders and of Nature: we are all related.

Is the Tree free in the forest? Only if the forest is.

Is the forest free? Only if the land is.

The Tree freedom can only exist in relationship to the collective freedom.

If you are not free, I am not free.

If you do not belong, I do not belong.

Freedom is ultimately found in WE, not in ME.

To be free from conditioning, whiteness blindfold, racism, judgment, separation, harmful behaviors, and hatred, I need to LISTEN. To others, to the land, to my ancestors, and to the elders. I need to listen to the wild Earth deeply—the wild feminine—the free, wild, and soft animal in me.

So, celebrating freedom can only be a celebration if all my relations are listened to and free. And if I celebrate "my" freedom, I need to fight for the freedom of ALL.

I do not want to celebrate an idea; I want to fight and work for that idea to become a reality. I want a different future, a way of relating that only we as human beings have not yet fully figured out.

So, my prayer and work this July 4th will be the same as every day. A prayer for my relatives who are suffering, a prayer for First Nation people all around the world to be free, a prayer for all minorities and BIPOC to feel as safe and free as I am.

I will celebrate that prayer around the fire with all my heart.


Angell Deer

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1 Comment

I truly love your reflection on the nature and limits of freedom for different minorities. When people speak of discrimination they often (and consistently) leave out certain minorities that experience a disproportionate amount of discrimination. It means something to me that you are so inclusive in your language about human diversity of a day when many privileged groups celebrate freedom in the US. As (among other things that define me) a Gay male, the idea of celebrating freedom on the 4th of July is more of an ideal, not a reality for me and my boyfriend.


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