Thoughts about Freedom
July 4—Independence Day—is a day when we in America celebrate our freedom. Somehow the spirit of this day has never rung completely true to me – in the present times, less than ever.
Freedom of opportunity in this country since its inception has been available selectively, with those of privilege having opportunities that many do not. Supreme Court decisions of late have taken us so many steps backward. Where and how do we protect those whose freedom is now further restricted and endangered?
It is hard not to feel disheartened.
But freedom is also maintaining a spirit of choice and opportunity even in the most restricted of environments.
This past week I had the privilege to be part of the development and presentation of a performance at York Correctional Institution for women in Niantic, CT. After three years of being unable to work at York in person because of the pandemic, JDPP teaching artists were able once again to explore a theme, this year ‘Journeying Toward Self,’ with a group of 9 courageous, talented, and motivated women. It took will and determination for them to move out of the pandemic isolation within the already-isolating prison environment and create, to come vibrantly alive through song, dance, and powerful autobiographical storytelling— to share their truth with an authenticity and wisdom that was simply awesome.
Everyone in the audience felt privileged to be there, to see them not only shine so brightly but to be fed and encouraged by it, to feel a ray of hope that freedom of spirit goes beyond any walls or restrictions and its positive energy transforms, even when we can’t see how it does it immediately.
We have a lot of work to do to realize true freedom for all in this country. We cannot give up.
These women did not. And, against so many odds, they soared.