July 2012 – The Cliché of Freedom

Freedom, much like friendship, is one of the hardest words, concepts to truly define. There are ranges to both, and they have both been interpreted and voiced in popular culture. Where they diverge is that freedom is often seen as elusive and an end-goal.

The first definition of freedom that struck and stuck with me was Public Enemy sampling the words, “Freedom is a road seldom traveled by the multitude…”  during their “A Nation of Millions”  album. Up until then, I thought of freedom as solely a group exercise, dealing with physical bondage.

Ideally that is the root of freedom where a group is physically held back, e.g. slavery, serfdom, caste systems, etc…but like the chicken or the egg, which came first?

It seems that nowadays, for the most part, we are dealing with Bob Marley’s paraphrase of Marcus Garvey’s, “Emancipate yourself from mental slavery…” But, how does one go about redeeming one’s self, freeing one’s self from the ties that bind?

Daily we see expressions of people claiming individuality, their personal freedom. This starts from early childhood and normally manifests itself during the teenage years. From this stage on, people are apt to believe they are expressing freedom through various modes and means of rebellion: hairstyle, fashion, tattoos, piercing, and a host of other ways to stand out and say, “This is me… I am FREE!”

This is the crossroad that I have faced, as have many others. What happens when “Too much freedom is the road to true oppression.”? How do you prevent your freedom from becoming your prison, a mere exercise in nihilism? How do you pull back?

True freedom is about caring. People who are truly free care about others. Otherwise, freedom is a cliché to do whatever the “6th” letter we want.

As always, I bring two or a few friends along. Today, I would like to introduce you to two of the freest people I know, both extraordinary people who express themselves quite differently.

One of the first friends I met when I moved to the State of Maryland in the mid-90s, a gifted artist and freedom fighter:  

One of my longest-tenured right-hand men, back to slightly before “I said hip hop…”