My grandmother taught me lessons in love and compassion. My mother taught me tolerance and patience. I thrive to teach my daughters the meaning of freedom.
I don’t want my children to grow up thinking that tyrants and racists are undefeatable; nor that homogeneity is the only recipe for co-existence. I refuse to teach them to submit to the rules unless they are fair and equal to all; and I refuse to give them the impression that being discriminated against is just a fact of life that they should only accept and never challenge.
I consider myself lucky to have grown among many life teachers at school, at home and around many politically and spiritually diverse circles of family and friends. As I explored, read and learned, I reached out to the other side every time I ran into another side. Although some attempts never led anywhere, many others helped bridge the gap, clarify positions and even lead to lifelong friendships.
At times I found that showing respect or restraint is misunderstood for support or submission. It is how society is built on false perceptions and lack of insight. People are often blinded by pre-conceptions and mistake different for bad, contrary opinion for divisive argument and diversity for animosity.
The concept of freedom is also misunderstood along the way. Maybe because freedom remains a distant abstract notion until one loses it. In childhood, our first vocalization of “NO!” is an instinctive reaction to someone infringing on our precious freedom and personal space. Then as we develop into teenagers, we enter a truly rebellious stage as we dictate how we want to live our lives away from the rules of our parents and society. It is rather sad to come out of adolescence and enter the adulthood phase submissive, accepting of the shackles, abiding by rules imposed by the powerful no matter how unfair they are, competing in a rat race heading away from our true nature and towards a plastic society that governments, corporations and bullies have built around us.
If I can choose, I would go back and re-learn from babbling babies the unyielding power of “NO” and use it any time my personal space is invaded, anytime my freedom is threatened or violated, and anytime my rights are hijacked or abused.
Freedom, like Love, is a rare and precious commodity. You’re lucky to have it and smart to protect it with all what you’ve got; but we don’t truly understand it until we lose it!