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  • Angela A. Art

How can we ask for Freedom if we do not first grant it?

Our freedom- autonomy of mind and body- is something its difficult to imagine losing and yet something we take for granted in so many ways and all too often.

It’s all too easy to take away or deny a freedom to others and excuse that behavior, while jealously guarding our own.

It’s all to easy to judge and blame others and thus compromise our freedom of mind by poisoning ourselves with negativity and hatred.

Its all to easy to acquiesce to another’s demands when we fear retribution for rebellion against their will – however unjust.

We crave 'freedom', we demand 'freedom'. We idolise freedom. But how can we honestly and ethically expect freedom - if we are not willing to grant it?

True freedom comes to us when we learn to control our own mind. When we can face our own shortcomings and errors with calm acknowledgment and take ownership and have accountability. From that foundation we can build healthy and empowered lives.

This morning after walking with Juno, our canine companion, we were getting in the car when she noticed an intriguing smell and detoured some 20 feet away to check it out.

We called her and encouraged her to jump in the car. She was calm and unhurried, she glanced over but took her own time to fully appreciate and consider the scent that had caught her attention. She was nearby and keeping an eye on us – but she really wanted to gather this information – which was completely incomprehensible and hidden to us humans.

Although it was frustrating for a few moments – there was a dignity about her completing her activity. Like a human who may pause on a walk, calling out ‘ just a moment I want to stop and appreciate this scene’. Juno couldn’t tell us what she was engaged in and we couldn’t join her in the activity. For those moments the inter species barrier separated us. Our human will at odds to her canine will as our needs and wants at the time were opposing.

Juno has been raised within a non-punitive philosophy. She is generally calm, gentle and quiet. She gets on well with most other dogs and mainly follows the rules. But she openly displays her unique and interesting personality and expresses herself in a myriad of ways that can generally be read quite clearly. She has a lifetime experience of respect and kindness. She consents calmly to trips to the vet and dog groomers and knows basic commands and manners.

But she lets us know how she feels. If she is left alone at home and she thinks this isn’t fair – she will often take some object outside and drop it in the fire pit. Then when someone comes home she meets them at the gate and “talks’ (she makes a warbling sound that is probably how human speech sounds to her!) she walks in the direction of the fire pit and warbles some more and then sits on her bed while we retrieve it. The message seems pretty clear that she feels hard done by and has harmlessly acted out that frustration and told us about it – without fear of retribution or anger.

Juno and her antics were on my mind today as I read about the situation in Afghanistan and I mentally put myself in the shoes of women in that country- sinking back in to the dark terror of the Taliban regime. I feel such horror at their situation and such a feeling of helplessness and sickening disgust that humans can become so steeped in power and control as to exert such punitive and cruel dominance over others.

No-one should live in such terrible conditions that they lose all freedoms and are so intimidated and dominated that their mind is controlled by fear and their body by pain and terror.

While we do all we can to give Juno opportunity to live her best life with reasonable boundaries, and appreciate our own opportunities to do the same – my heart is with the women and children of Afghanistan as they are lost behind a dark curtain which will conceal atrocities we have heard about from the previous Taliban period , but hoped not to see return.

Within our world countless beings suffer similar total loss of freedoms and lack of any autonomy over their body, their actions or choices.

Cattle in feedlots, Chickens in intensive egg and meat farms, Pigs in intensive indoor sheds- crammed in narrow crates and pens, Salmon in unbelievably tight stocked fish farming enclosures, fur farms where animals like foxes and milk are kept in tiny cages – to name just a few of the beings who are denied every basic opportunity for enjoyment in life. We take tiny babies from their cow, goat, sheep mothers to take the mothers milk for our own selfish wants. We take little foals from their mothers to make Premarin (Hormone treatment for Menopause). We kill all these animals. We toss day old male chicks into massive blenders (maserators) for the crime of being unable to lay eggs in the cruel egg industry.

We look away, we ignore, we don’t want to know or talk about it or accept the truth of the horror our species perpetuates on such a massive scale.

We make excuses, we deflect, we get defensive and even aggressive when the truth is staring us in the face. We avoid and cling to our norms, selfishly.

We fill our society with lies, violence and cruelty – we take and take and take and expect everything as our ‘right’….and then are aghast and horrified when we perpetuate atrocities against each other – our own kind.

We have no right to cause such harm. We have no need for any of it to be happening.

There is no excuse.

We have the power to grant freedom with our choices- and set our own hearts and minds free in the process.

There is a kinder compassionate world awaiting- we just have to choose it.

AngelaAArt 2021

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