As we are in the celebration of July 4th in the US, a celebration of freedom, independence, and a coming together, my heart is heavy with the witnessing of the pain and separation still present to this day between US citizens. Despite the constitution recognize this freedom and equality of all its citizens, the experience of many is far from it.
So during this weekend, I sat with what freedom truly means. Am I truly free if my brothers and sisters are still living with chains?
If my freedom means oppression of others, is that really freedom? Am I truly 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 truly celebrate freedom for all? Freedom of expression in all ways and forms.
As in this photo, what I "see" means freedom for a few, oppressions for others. My duty is to see the shadow, understand it, and heal it.
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 existence of the lack of freedom and independence for (too) many. Because they cannot live freely as I do. Because just by the reason of who they are their life is way more at risk than mine. Knowing some do not have access to good education, good food, good water, good healthcare, 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 partner hand in hand is less risky because I am heterosexual.
I know that protesting for my rights is safer because the system in place protects me more than others.
I know that because I live on stolen land and the land of my ancestors was not stolen, that 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.
I know that wearing a mask is in no way taking away my freedom in the way freedom is taken away every single day from so many regardless of being in a pandemic or not.
That is why my responsibility is to fight for those who are oppressed. Less free. Less independent. More at risk. 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. 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, hatred, I need to LISTEN. To others. To the land. To my ancestors. To the elders. I need to deeply listen to the wild Earth. The wild feminine. The free wild and soft animal in me.
So celebrating freedom can only truly be a celebration if all my relations are listened to AND free. And if I celebrate "my" freedom, then 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. A different future. A way of relating that only us as human beings have not yet figure out fully.
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.