Freedom

There once was a young man. He had grown up in a in a poor community surrounded by people that were doing what they could to survive. One day a rich farmer came into town looking for some boys to work on his farm. He wasn’t offering much, just a place to stay and food. Most people hid and didn’t want to go along, he wasn’t looking to employ anyone – he was looking for slaves. This young man was young enough to believe the words of the farmer and with the excitement of youth he picked up his few belongs and jumped into the truck.
The adjustment to a new way of life was hard, but this young man remain confident in his choice. His old friends looked down on him as he was now a slave, but he felt free. He had open space and a real purpose- he worked the land as is if it was his own. Day in day out, pushing his body to the limits to ensure that the crops grew well. He didn’t reap any of the benefits of the success of the crops, but that didn’t worry him. He felt success from within – he could see he was doing a good job and that was reward enough.
Time past and our young man met a girl, got married and had a child. Becoming a father changed his outlook in an unexpected way. Suddenly the reality of being a slave was not something he could hide. He did not want to bring his child up in this home of poverty, where nothing was yours and you were always at the mercy of the master. He had freely come to work, so he felt sure he would be freely allowed to leave. There was a process, he would find out and return to the village of his youth.
And so the little family started the process to become free again. They got the required papers, but they needed to find a sponsor. After searching for many weeks they found a willing sponsor. A man from the north was willing to negotiate on their behalf. Now the success our young man had felt in his youth felt like a curse. The master did not want to let him go. The best deal that the sponsor could get was that one of the 3 people in the family could go free while the other two worked harder to repay the debt. The parents agonised over this choice – their child could go free, but they would never see him again. Eventually they concluded that being together was the best option. They were confident that they could teach their child to feel the freedom they had once felt within the confines of the life that they had. They believed that freedom was a state of mind and no one else could control your mind.
So life went on at the farm. The young child grew into a strong boy, and it wasn’t long before he too was working the fields with his dad. The family had been blessed with another child. A little girl, and she too grew up learning to live within the rules and find pleasure and freedom in the small things around them.
As time passed the little girl grew into a fine young woman. A farmer from a far away town came to visit one day, and he fell in love with the young woman. It wasn’t long before this young woman, born to a slave, was marrying a farmer with plenty of wealth. The wedding day was beautiful- she looked radiant, and there was a wonderful feast. But as her father gave her away at the alter, he was filled with dread and remorse. He had never taught her that taking a man’s freedom was wrong. He had only taught her how to make the best of their existence. He had very consciously shown her that happiness comes from within and is not dependent on the world around you. But now as she stood there in her beautiful white dress, he realised that she would repeat the cycle- she was no longer a slave, but now would have slaves of her own, and she saw nothing wrong with that.
The father had done what he thought was the best for his children. He had taught then how to make the best of their circumstances, but in that moment he realised he had never taught them to image a world where the circumstances were different. He hadn’t taught them how to make the world a better place. What are we teaching our children? Is it how to thrive in the current world, or is it how they can make the world a better place?

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