Tuesday, July 2, 2013

“Give us, us free”


The movie came out the year I graduated college and a scene in it permanently altered my understanding of freedom.

Amistad, a powerful historical drama depicting the mutiny of the schooner by captured Mende slaves,  revolutionized some of my thoughts about what it means to crave freedom.

In one of the most memorable scenes, Joseph Cinque (played by one of my favorite actors, Djimon Hounsou) stands, sweat streaming down his face, rattled by indescribable memories of captivity and the fear of returning to enslavement, emboldens in the courtroom with, “Give us, us free.”

Freedom.

It’s a word thrown around a lot this time of year. You listen a little more intently when, hand over heart, you hear certain lyrics kicking off ballgames around the 4th. You might reassess with a more investment your interpretation of the Declaration of Independence in regards to unalienable rights, including “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” And if you so fancy, you just might go around singing, “If you love somebody, set them free. Free, free, set them free.” Although no matter how hard you try I’m just not believing you’re singing it as well as The Police (sorry).

In other words, freedom has a lot of connotations associated with it.

Sometimes I wonder if we’ve lost the impressive responsibility that comes with liberty.

Sometimes I wonder if our gratitude has become rote, much like asking someone how they are but not really waiting to hear the answer.

Are we waiting and acting in response to our freedom?

Have we ceased to let freedom impress so deeply inside us we’re compelled to do something in response—to live out our appreciation?



Which brings me to my question for you today—what are you doing with it? What are you doing with your freedom?

6 comments:

  1. I agree about the connotations to that word. Freedom is itself a cage, in a way. Because like you said, it comes with responsibilities and those are contraining (not necessarily in a bad way). Anyway, I'm grateful for the freedoms I do have and try to keep them. Happy fourth!

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    1. On the road most of the day and I spent a lot of time thinking about your comment. What I kept coming back to is the word overflow. I think the responsibilities--the will to act out of gratitude come out of an abundance or an understanding of what's been given. Still playing with this in my head but I guess the last thing I think of when I think of free is a cage. Happy 4th back at you!

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  2. Oh, what a question...what am I doing with my freedom? What do any of us do with freedom we haven't gained ourselves? My grandparents understand freedom a lot more than I do. They fought for it, watched friends die for it, held on to it, no matter the cost. Our current American generation doesn't quite grasp what freedom really means. I try so hard to understand it myself, and that's why I'm so shocked and amazed when I watch movies like Amistad. My prayer is that I can teach my children what freedom really means--by reminding them of those who are not free.

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    1. I love what you wrote about your grandparents. I would certainly think having to fight for it would increase the understood value of freedom. I almost wrote...are we too free in this post but you touched upon what I would have been after--can we fully grasp it...do we even try? To your last point, that's why Amistad went so deep with me--shed light on a new understanding.

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  3. As always you make me think, girl! Perhaps that's why I always come back to visit. :) I wonder if the only way to understand my freedom is to choose to give it up. To make sacrifices for the sake of those who are not free. For me this means leaving comforts, and now the rubber meets the road...

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    1. Now it's you who is stirring deep thoughts in me! Want updates on that road.

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