Freedom, by Juno

Well we’re back, at the start of the second month of the year, winter still all about us in the Thompson Rivers Valley . . . and loving it. Ken, Kathie, Cameron and I have enjoyed many days  walking and hiking, meeting up with an amazing array of canine friends, Ken and Kathie swapping stories and advice with a variety of folks, all blessed with a wonderful experience of freedom. I am reminded of a Beatles song: The Octopus’s  Garden:

We would be so happy you and me
No one there to tell us what to do
I’d like to be under the sea
In an octopus’s garden with you

Life here is good, very good!

There’s an old Gospel song associated with the US civil rights movement, which along with countless others sung in different languages all over the world, gives voice to a basic human right and desire, to have greater control over the circumstances of our individual and communal lives. Famous leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, Sojourner Truth, all join with today’s nameless leaders in Hong Kong, Burma/Myanmar, the Middle East, China, displaced persons in Australia, Indigenous communities in North America, the list seems endless and the plight of so many, extreme. All seek justice and freedom for themselves, their communities, for all people and for all creation. If the poor will always be with us (Mt 26:11) so also it seems is the struggle for freedom.

From my nose on the ground perspective, I appreciate freedom. My business card says I love to chase and be chased, in equal measure. I love to run; I even feel God’s pleasure in flight. So it made total sense to me that the other day, when having included me on a marvellous hike just outside of Kamloops, Cameron and Ken wanted me to return to the car. Well, I wasn’t ready, and I admit, I lost my sensibilities, a bit . . . well a lot . . . for two entire hours – 120 minutes – 7,200 seconds. I took a stand . . . having decided I was not ready to go, despite invitations to “come,” to “come now” (issued through clenched teeth), enticed by treats (which vary in appeal). My solitary vigil continued . . . The day grew longer; the air colder and the light dimmer. Mobile phone connectively evaporated; not safe; not good. I remained resolute in my conviction; it was my right to remain.

Eventually special forces were called in. Kathie was able to cajole a friend to drive her up to the offensive scene. Do you remember High Noon? I leapt into her arms, giddy with joy as Ken and Cameron calmed, and cooled, and considered, well, many things (not all kind). Emergency over; all good now. Woof.

Therein lies the problem and challenge with freedom. My freedom was not everyone’s freedom. In Ottawa (our nation’s capital) and elsewhere, truckers and their supporters still demand freedom, an ultimatum for what they want or think they want at this particular point in time. They want nothing less than the elimination of all pandemic restrictions with no regard for overflowing intensive care units, exhausted health care professionals, nervous front-line workers, exasperated politicians at all levels of government let alone families and friends of the bereaved (34,194 nationally; 5,716,136 globally).

Freedom comes with a cost and a sacrifice. There is no such thing as pure freedom, a constant unrestricted experience of indulgence and delight, accountable to no one, a playtime without consequence. Freedom is a just balance of power which must always be evaluated and negotiated. Freedom is concerned with the quality of life and expectations of all people and creatures. It is not confined to the ambitions or defined by the fears and prejudices of an individual. Freedom is a social construct. It is a gift to all. It is earned and it emerges and develops over time. SPOILER ALERT – Free Willie is an illusion.

The struggle for civil rights in the USA has never ended; the song is still sung; the context has simply changed. Economics keep certain peoples poor if Jim Crow has run its course. Separate but equal has donned new clothes. Lynch is now loss, still, after all those years.

I was wrong in my defiant demand for more playtime. This small though vocal group of truckers are wrong in both strategy and intent. Self-reference always ends up in self-defeat and injures everyone. If there is any shining light in this rant from the far right it may force a conversation on how to salvage the common good. I commit to do my bit, at the dog park and everywhere I run, and feel God’s pleasure. Please do likewise.

Paws, Juno

Oh freedom,
Oh freedom,
Oh freedom,
Freedom is coming,
Oh yes I know

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