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.”
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?