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A close friend of mine stated, “We are not free until we are all free.” My response: all of us are free and none of us are free. Freedom implies the right to speak, act, or think as one desires without limitation. Also, freedom is the state of not being imprisoned, enslaved, or subject to a despotic government.

None of us are free. We can think whatever we want,but can we say whatever we want? Did you ever think about telling your boss to            “Go to H _ _ l!” Do you need your job to eat, pay your rent, acquire insurance, buy a martini? We are controlled one way or another but keep in mind that some form of control is of paramount importance. You are not free to drive through a stop sign or red light. You cannot yell “fire!” in a theater. There are times when freedom without self control can get you in trouble.

When one is imprisoned,one is not free. Imprisonment can mean captivated or controlled. This does not necessarily mean a prison structure such as Attica. There are people who are imprisoned within their own bodies or minds. To an extent handicaps can imprison or restrain people from doing exactly what they want. A blind person cannot drive . Unless you are in California, Governor Brown signed a bill allowing people to have cars that use a combination of technologies such as radar sensors and artificial intelligence software.  No human driver needed. There are woman in some countries that encounter difficulty getting divorce. This can be a form of imprisonment. A disliked job is a form of imprisonment if a person has monetary responsibilities.

Enslavement is the antithesis of freedom. Slavery developed when hunter-gatherers evolved from tribal life to towns and cities. Every ancient civilization used slaves as they were cheap labor and selling them was a business. In the 18th century BCE, Hammurabi’s Code listed penalties for surgeons operating on slaves. Slaves existed throughout history everywhere including our own USA.

“None of us are free.”  On a collective level,it is my belief that we have acquired more freedom in some ways and we have lost or never had freedom in other ways. Prohibition was enforced to prohibit drinking alcoholic beverages between 1920-1933. Why? So a select few could make money on the black market. Marijuana became popular because there were no laws prohibiting the smoking of marijuana. In 1937 the sale of cannabis became illegal and has mostly remained illegal, in most states, in spite of the fact that in1996 California made it legal for medical uses. Opponents disagreed. I happen to know someone who had breast cancer who found pain relief only in marijuana and thought,”How dare they…”  While it is illegal, a small group of people make money off of something that can be grown in plants or backyards anywhere. Freedom is a problem when a small group of people want to make money. I can get into the oil industry and the control of the car and oil industry that prohibited the growth of trains as transportation. Rather, I think the point has been made.

” We are all free”. We live in a country that provides everyone with a free 13 year education starting in Kindergarten. I am not sure about the rest of the states, Bernie Sanders, but Florida has grants for poor people who cannot afford college. I know because I wrote letters of recommendations for these people and throughout my 41 years in education, I saw improvements. However, I also saw students become “free”,as now they can tell a teacher to “F_ _ k off!” and barely get in trouble for it. They can misbehave and remain in school. They are entitled.That is their freedom.

There are 2 sides of the freedom coin. We are free to become who we want in this country which is why my Italian and Irish grandparents came here. They worked hard so their children and grandchildren could succeed. Their children and grandchildren did not misbehave in school. Freedom has increased and decreased and it has affected all of us in one way or the other.

Freedom has many faces. Freedom like, love, peace, happiness, and beauty is an abstract word, to name a few. They exist as ideas or thoughts not having a concrete,singular, definition. Are we not beautiful until we are all beautiful? Keats said “A thing of beauty is a joy forever” but primarily,I agree with a 3rd century Greek who said”Beauty is in the Eye of the beholder” which was also said by Margaret Wolfe Hungerford in the 18th century!…until we are all free…”  How? We are not free to choose our parents and/or their monetary status. However, we are free to work hard to achieve a goal which is commensurate with our genetic make-up and gifts. I cannot memorize for the sake of acting. When forced to act as a consequence of a London Globe scholarship in July 2004, I wrote my script all over my arms and legs. I played the Duke in Othello and what was suppose to be a serious role became a comedy!!!!

Our greatest freedom is the gift of self-discovery. Through reading, social interaction, listening, observing, trying, and a willingness to learn, we can discover who we are, if we want to. Yes, we are free. It is not others that restrict us, but our own selves . It is fear, low self esteem and doubt that makes freedom elusive.