And an orator said, "Speak to us of Freedom."
And he answered:
At the city gate and by your fireside I have seen you prostrate yourself and worship your own freedom,
Even as slaves humble themselves before a tyrant and praise him though he slays them.
Ay, in the grove of the temple and in the shadow of the citadel I have seen the freest among you wear their freedom as a yoke and a handcuff.
And my heart bled within me; for you can only be free when even the desire of seeking freedom becomes a harness to you, and when you cease to speak of freedom as a goal and a fulfillment.
You shall be free indeed when your days are not without a care nor your nights without a want and a grief,
But rather when these things girdle your life and yet you rise above them naked and unbound.
And how shall you rise beyond your days and nights unless you break the chains which you at the dawn of your understanding have fastened around your noon hour?
In truth that which you call freedom is the strongest of these chains, though its links glitter in the sun and dazzle the eyes.
And what is it but fragments of your own self you would discard that you may become free?
If it is an unjust law you would abolish, that law was written with your own hand upon your own forehead.
You cannot erase it by burning your law books nor by washing the foreheads of your judges, though you pour the sea upon them.
And if it is a despot you would dethrone, see first that his throne erected within you is destroyed.
For how can a tyrant rule the free and the proud, but for a tyranny in their own freedom and a shame in their won pride?
And if it is a care you would cast off, that care has been chosen by you rather than imposed upon you.
And if it is a fear you would dispel, the seat of that fear is in your heart and not in the hand of the feared.
Verily all things move within your being in constant half embrace, the desired and the dreaded, the repugnant and the cherished, the pursued and that which you would escape.
These things move within you as lights and shadows in pairs that cling.
And when the shadow fades and is no more, the light that lingers becomes a shadow to another light.
And thus your freedom when it loses its fetters becomes itself the fetter of a greater freedom.
"What Freedom Means to Me" Essay Selected in Local Contest
The Goodland Elks Lodge sponsored a local essay contest for junior high students. Students were asked to write on the topic "What Freedom Means to Me" as an assignment in Mrs. Gibson's English class. Clarice Neitzel, St. Francis 8th grade student, wrote an essay that was selected as one of the top three essays in the local contest. The top three essays will be sent on for district judging. The district contest winners will receive U.S. savings bonds. Congratulations, Clarice!
Clarice's essay can be found below:
“What Does Freedom Mean to Me?”
Have you ever thought about the meaning of freedom? To me, freedom means to be able to learn from my mistakes. If I didn’t have freedom, I would have to do what the top authorities always tell me to do. I don’t have any room for mistakes so it would be harder to learn about life.
Freedom also means having the time to do things right. No freedom, in this case, would mean that I wouldn’t have any time for fantastic, clever thoughts. I would have to do things extremely precise and quick. When I don’t have freedom, I am under pressure constantly. While I am under so much pressure, it makes it a more stressful world to live in.
One last example of what freedom means to me is being able to do many things without being forced into doing anything. No freedom means that I might have to enlist in the army reluctantly. I might even be forced to quarter troops and watch them take over my home! If I didn’t have freedom, I might have to get married at a young age and start a family which I have no intention of doing at my age. My life minus freedom would equal being controlled with everything. When I don’t have freedom I can’t do anything except for what the strict laws tell me to do.
In summary, we are lucky to be in a society of freedom. Just remember, we are the land of the free and the home of the brave!
St. Francis Junior High