"This fog is thick as peanut butter."

"You mean pea soup."

"You eat what you like and I'll eat what I like!"

- Yukon Cornelius and Hermey the Elf

Monday, May 28, 2007

Memorial Day

"Freedom - that consuming goal above doubt or criticism, desired as moths desire the candle or emigrants the distant continent waiting to parch them in its deserts or drive them to madness in its bitter winters! Freedom, that land where rogues, at every corner, cozen with lies and promises the plucky sheep who judged it time to sack the shepherd! Unfurl your banner, Freedom, and call upon me with cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, dulcimer and all kinds of music to fall down and worship you, and I will do so upon the instant, for who would wish to be cast into the fiery furnace of his neighbours' contempt? I will come to you as the male spider to the female, as the explorer to the upper reaches of the great river upon which he knows he will die before ever he wins through to the estuary. How should I dare refuse your beckoning, queen whose discarded lovers vanish by night, princess whose unsuccessful suitors die at sunset? Would to God we had never encountered you, goddess of thrombosis, insomnia, asthma, duodenal and migraine! For we are free - free to suffer every anguish of deliberation, of decisions which must be made upon suspect information and half-knowledge, every anguish of hindsight and regret, of failure, shame and responsibility for all that we have brought upon ourselves and others: free to struggle, to starve, to demand from all one last, supreme effort to reach where we long to be and, once there, to conclude that it is not, after all, the right place. For a great price obtained I this freedom, to wish to God I had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when I sat by the fleshpots and ate bread to the full. The tyrant wasn't such a bad old bugger, and even in his arbitrary rages never killed as many as died in yesterday's glorious battle for liberty. Will you return to him, then? Ah no, sweet Freedom, I will slave for you until I have forgotten the love that once consumed my being, until I am grown old and bitter and can no longer see the wood for the starved, dirty trees. Then I will curse you and die; and will you then concede that I may be accounted your loyal follower and a true creature of this Earth? And, Freedom, was I free?"
--Richard Adams, The Plague Dogs

I thought the above quote was appropriate for Memorial Day, not as a criticism of freedom, but because it reminded me that freedom is not a "black and white" simple concept. Freedom is hard. It requires responsibility, painful decisions, work. Freedom must be carefully protected from corruption, misuse, abuse and can be so easily taken for granted to the point where it can be stolen from us by liars who use our very love of freedom to enslave us.

Today is the day we remember and are grateful to our Armed Forces for the sacrifices they made (and make still) to protect our freedom. But those of us at home have just as much work to do as those brave men and women who give so much of themselves, their very life and limb (often literally) so that we have that elusive freedom. If we refuse to take ownership of our freedom, by voting, participating in our communities, talking with our government, even protesting...if we don't do these things, we are wasting their gift to us.

My cousin, in a letter explaining to his family why he is going to Iraq as a security contractor, asked us, in the possible event of his death, not to view it as a waste. He feels that to do so, regardless of our political beliefs, would be disrespectful of his hard work and sacrifice, and I have to agree. It breaks my heart that so many have already died in Iraq, but I don't want to think of their lives as a "waste". It was a gift freely given to their country in the hope that some good would come of their actions. So it is up to us at home to make sure their gift is not wasted.

What does that mean exactly? What are we supposed to do? Well, I don't know. I guess that's what they mean when they say "freedom isn't free." It isn't easy either. But I hope what it means is that we as free Americans will stop being so apathetic to what is happening both to our country and the rest of the world and stand up and begin to act. If we really are grateful to our Armed Forces, maybe we can do a little more than wearing red on Fridays or putting yellow ribbon magnets on our cars. The troops can't see that stuff from where they are, so let's do something they can see....


At 1:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry I'm just getting around to reading this entry. Very well written, Miss Wendy and so very true. In addition to being a professional sweater knitter, you should also be a writer of some sort. You are a woman of many, many talents!

Lula's Momma Wamma

At 10:34 AM, Anonymous kathyjh said...

i've wanted to respond to this since the day i first saw it and have not found the time. what you and your quote are saying has been summarized by someone who said that we have become consumers of democracy and not participants. we want it all done for us while we sit back and enjoy being americans. that's how we've lost what we thought we stood for.

right around the time this entry came out i found this in a book by paul tournier:

If there is so much suffering in the world is it not because so many good people, who are very moral, even scrupulous in their immediate responsibilities, reassure themselves too easily by telling themselves that those distant sufferings on such a grand scale are outside the radius of action? They persuade themselves that they can do nothing about it. In this way flagrant injustices subsist through a sort of universal complicity.

thanks for posting this. it can't be said enough that we have work to do if we want real freedom and justice for ourselves and the world.


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