I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do. I am free, no matter what rules surround me. If I find them tolerable, I tolerate them; if I find them too obnoxious, I break them. I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do.
—Robert A. Heinlein
Freedom is a word that gets thrown around a lot by politicians and pundits. It is the basis for untold numbers of credos, adages, maxims and bumper stickers. But for all its use, I don’t think many of us give even a single thought to what the word means for ourselves.
I’m not here to try to define the word. I think it has personal meaning for each of us that can’t be easily contained in one single definition. My idea of freedom may not match yours and your freedom may not seem like freedom at all to me. And maybe that’s the main thing in freedom– we are free to define our freedom as we wish.
The only constant is the moral responsibility that we take for our actions, as famed sci-fi author Robert Heinlein lays out so well in the quote above. We can never be free from the responsibility we must take for our actions nor from the repercussions from others in response to our actions. That is one freedom to which we will never be entitled.
The painting at the top is a new painting, a 24″ by 24″ canvas, that is part of my Home+land show that opens this Friday at the West End Gallery. Titled In the Air of Freedom, it represents for me the freedom that I have found in the last twenty years of painting. Painting has given me a means of free expression, a voice to send out into the world, a contentment and purpose that I struggled and failed to find to find in the years before I came to it. It has come to define my own freedom. I see the Red Tree representing that free expression and the fields behind it representing for me the labor and responsibility that accompany it.
As I said, freedom seems like it should be something we can easily put into words but it it turns out to be a much more complex creature. Take a minute and really think about it. How do you define your own freedom? What makes you feel free?