Freedom -An Invitation
Updated: May 31, 2020
“Let us be enraged about injustice, but let us not be destroyed by it” - Bayard Rustin
As recent events have shown us, freedom is fleeting - probably more so than we actually realize. For a person living in one of the most freely democratic countries in the world I have had a bit of a wake up call when it comes to the freedom I've taken for granted for the last 33 years.
Because of COVID-19, over the last 9 weeks I have been told by my government leaders to stop hugging people, to stay home as often as possible, to wear certain pieces of clothing (masks and/or gloves), to not attend my religious services, to stand at least 6 feet away from my friends and colleagues, and to avoid visits with my family unless extremely necessary. My kids are not able to gain a fulsome education, they cannot interact with their friends face-to-face and they can't even play at the playground down the street.
Canada, the true north strong and free, has probably never been less free. And I have found myself questioning this in so many ways - is this OK? Should I be pushing back, as is my right in this country? Or, on the other hand, is this enough? Are we doing all we can to protect the most vulnerable with the measures taken or could we take an even more strict approach?
And now more recently there has been so much racial violence and discrimnation being made visible to us that I am questioning how this freedom can even be true if there are those in our communities who are being insulted, hated on, punished, hindered, and killed because of the colour of their skin? I know that these situations are not new - they are simply being made more known to us. I know this because Canada has its own battle with racism - particularly when it comes to our Indigenous people. I work alongside the First Nations, Metis and Inuit people of my city to navigate a system that has been custom built to promote whiteness and hinder every other race. Unfortunately these situations are news not because it is a new happening but because more people are talking about it.
The world just feels so heavy right now and I know that I am not the only one who feels it. What do we do with this heaviness?
I don't have fulsome answers to the questions I’ve identified I’m struggling with but I want to try and work through them intentionally and collaboratively. I see all over the place how much value we have placed in our individual freedom and while some are fighting tooth-and-nail to regain it, I see others willingly giving up all kinds of rights and freedoms for the greater good of our local and global society. And at the same time I see people very literally rioting because we know that this freedom we're protecting or fighting for isn't playing out the way it should be because there are so many people are being left out.
Again, I know this is not new...whether it's freedom of speech, land rights, systemic racism, government control, media bias, etc. I do my best to pay attention to the world around me because I care a lot. If you're into personality type stuff I am an ISFP, a type 9 and an empath. A lot of times I don't speak up about what I see and hear because I can be frozen in the middle. I want to say something because it matters to me or someone close to me, and yet I also don't want to say the wrong thing. I don't want to support the wrong side and/or hurt people's feelings. I don't want to be judgemental but I do want to be honest. I personally live in a world where I am constantly strattling the line where I can take it or leave, agree or disagree, tow the line or speak my mind - and so I struggle to know how to fight for the things that matter in a way that stays true to who I am on each of those sides.
But I don't want to keep living frozen in that world of in betweens. I want to be OK with both the comfort of agreeing and the discomfort of disagreeing. I want to dig deep into opportunities where the end result is not simply everyone smiling and laughing and singing. Because it's in those places of discomfort that Truth is exposed and real relationships and change happen.
And yes, I do believe there is a Truth amongst all these questions and fears and heaviness. I am not afraid to say that the questions that I have shared with you have ultimately led me to even bigger questions of freedom - Eternal and Divine questions. While questioning if I am OK with my individual political freedoms and the fairness of the system we tout as being free for every person, I have started to wonder why I am placing so much of my identity in this version of earthly freedom when I know that ultimate-and-forever freedom comes from Christ? And if my freedom comes from Christ, how does that change or effect my understanding of freedom within a finite government system? How does it force me to reevaluate how I am showing up as an ally to those in my community who do not benefit from these freedoms in the same way I do?
These are really big questions and not ones that I take lightly in sharing with you here - so I am inviting you to look at these with me over the next however-many-weeks it takes me to work through them. I want to hear from others what their perspective is on all of these things, and at the same time have the opportunity to share some of the things that have been placed on my heart too. There could be some tough conversations that develop but that does not mean it cannot be SAFE conversation. I am extremely serious about creating safe space for hard conversations and without sounding arrogant, I am well-practiced at it. So please know that if your ideas or opinions are different from mine that is OK and I want you to share them...but please share them with respect and a dash of humility.
So to start this journey, I want to hear from YOU - in the comments section I invite you to simply share with me if you have had similar feelings/questions lately about freedom. It could be related to COVID-19 or to the racial tensions we are witnessing or to something else that hasn't been mentioned here at all. It could be a super short answer or it could be a lengthy one, it doesn’t matter to me. If you choose to comment I may not answer right away but know that it will have been read and that I am considering what you’re saying. If you’re not comfortable putting your thoughts into this public forum then please feel welcome to privately send them to me! And, as I’ve stated above, any kind of comment that is disrespectful, rude, racist, or any other kind of inappropriate than I will remove it.
Thank you in advance for entering this conversation with me - I hope that it brings hope, action and inspiration for all of us!
*I also want to acknowledge right off the bat that I am sure I will stumble as I work my way through this. I want you to correct me (nicely) if you identify a mistake and/or challenge me if you see an unintended blind spot. I am not perfect but I will be praying for wisdom as I explore my questions and hope that I am able to share the answers I find with you in a good way.