What Does Freedom Mean, Take #2

The debate — no, strike that — the fight over the nation’s debt goes on and on, and while it’s raging, our nation’s fabric is being torn apart.

Benjamin Franklin, wasn’t it? who said, If we do not hang together, you may rest upon it that we shall hang separately. Maybe it was Thomas Paine. At any rate, it was a true patriot. But there seems no longer to be any sense of together, of common citizenship, of one nation, indivisible — And all those who wrap themselves in flags and call themselves patriots may not be so — indeed may be the opposite.

So what is to be done? One simple solution might be for everyone to just SHUT UP and listen a while. We are drowning in noise, the noise of talking before thinking, of shouting to drown out the other —  before us daily on television is the spectacle of countless Neroes, fiddling while Rome burns —

But I get overheated easily, and therefore am not an effective person to argue for cooling down, for reasoning, for courtesy, for civility. Let me have someone else do it for me. Once again, as I did in an earlier post, I call upon the philosopher Jacob Needleman:

“Shouting is not thinking. ‘Come let us reason together,’ the prophet says, God says to Isaiah… I think the moment you start thinking together with someone, immediately their eyes light up… I must confess I spoke to — I won’t say who, but I spoke to some members of Congress not long ago. We had a very quiet evening together and we started opening up, just what you and I are doing now. And they said, in effect, you know, ‘We never get a chance to do this. We’re in there trying to, you know, speak to television cameras or make points with electorates or with lobby groups, but we never…’ I said, ‘You mean you never come together and just reflect together?’ And they said no. To me, that’s the dirty secret of America at the moment. That’s the problem.”

Let us come together and reason together… let our eyes light up as we begin thinking together… Even at the eleventh hour there may be time …

And above all let us remember who we are, we, not I, not you — WE the People of the United States of America —

This entry was posted in Democracy, Etcetera, Freedom, Personal Essay, Quotes and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to What Does Freedom Mean, Take #2

  1. Stef says:

    It’s amazing the wonderful, powerful, positive influence some mindfulness can have…


  2. I said to a friend recently: “I do not like the way I talk about politics, I need to stop.” It is so easy to get caught up in it, to get overheated, as you say. So I decided to shut up. But I like this reminder that shutting up does not have to mean shutting down. Now – to find a productive, mindful way to make change…


    • Touch2Touch says:

      What a fantastic sentence of yours: “shutting up does not have to mean shutting down”
      I think putting it so perfectly makes the goal much clearer than before — which means you give us a place to begin.
      Thank you!


  3. Wouldn’t it be nice if we all could just “communicate”. It sounds so simple but seems to be so difficult!

    My daughters and I were talking about the national debt limit today. In their young minds, I could not find a way to get them understanding how much money that is. What should I expect? Most of us adults cannot fully comprehend that amount either!

    I hope communication efforts improve soon. I hope.


    • Touch2Touch says:

      One reason (I think) communication is so difficult is that very often the matter under discussion is extremely complex (like the debt limit, for example), but our human tendency is to want to make it simple, and get it over with. Which can be done, brutally, in the short run, one way or another — but doesn’t work very effectively in the long run. The law of unintended consequences pounces into action —

      It’s no wonder kids can’t understand; as you say, adults have a tough time with it.


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