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Sing a Song of Freedom

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Freedom comes in stages.

This morning I cut the ties to Satellite TV. This action brought a touch of apprehension to my soul. I have realized the addiction for quite some time, but refused to deal with it.

Until now.

The first step to getting rid of an addiction is recognizing it. The second step is actually doing something about it. I've tried to quit before, but Andy Griffith and Lou Dobbs kept luring me back. This morning I grabbed my breakfast and tried to turn to one of the usual mind-numbing programs designed to keep us dumb and happy, and found that I had been cut off. That type of thing happens when you don't pay the bill. My first thought was to immediately go to the computer, type in the Dish Network URL and get my programming back. My second thought was – why? Revolutionary.

I am now listening to a collection of Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Joan Baez, The Beatles, and Judy Collins. I remember when these artists were my best friends. I think back to the time when getting the latest album was something that I treasured. These songs spoke to my spirit. I sat for hours passing around a bottle of wine with friends while pondering the Berkeley riots and discussing just how far down the rat hole our nation had gone. We talked about the latest protest and even went to one of the Black Panthers' first meetings. We hitchhiked where we wanted to go because we were too young to drive. School was someplace to meet and plan our next adventure. The Monterey Pop Festival was the best thing going, and everyone geared up to hitchhike there. We didn't think of crazy pedophiles in cars trying to kill people, we just stuck our thumbs out and caught a ride. Our bubble burst at the Altamont Speedway Free Concert when violence erupted. Reality pierced the night with a gunshot, and we began our journey into denial. Yes, violence had penetrated our private world, and things were never the same. If reality was that harsh, we wanted no part of it.

Aint it funny how you feel
When you're findin out its real?



Oh, to live on sugar mountain
With the barkers and the colored balloons,
You can't be twenty on sugar mountain
Though youre thinking that youre leaving there too soon,
Youre leaving there too soon. (Sugar Mountain, Neil Young)

Pushed into acquiescence to societal norms, we went our separate ways. Some eased the pain with drugs, others with day jobs. Either way, we were anesthetized. We watched TV, drove back and forth to work, bought houses, and became respectable. We hung up our battle gear and surrendered to the man. That is, until someone got through.

Somewhere along the way, I listened to a small voice pleading with me to wake up and smell the coffee. Then it started – the journey to freedom. A bit here, a bit there. Freedom comes in stages, and it can be painful. During my quest for the truth, TV started looking more absurd to me as time went on, yet I held on to it until I needed it no longer. Reality took up residence instead. Welcome back, it's been a long time.

So here I sit, wondering what life will be like not having the pacifier that has lulled me to sleep for what seems like forever. I took the 60 bucks I saved on my Satellite TV service, and went to Amazon.com to purchase two books – Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein, and The End of America by Naomi Wolf. It looks like a Naomi kind of day.

It also seems I have time left over to consider that the revolution begun in the 60s seems to be resurrecting after a long slumber. It's about time. A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall (Bob Dylan) and we who are awakening need to get into the spirit of protest that was alive in the 60s and beat the airwaves to try and get through to the people who are still asleep and in denial of the harsh reality around them. We need to dust off the battle gear we hung up so long ago, and prepare for the fight of our lives. How bad does it have to get before we put our remote controls down, get up off the couch and start talking again?

If everything you think you know,
Makes your life unbearable,
Would you change?
Would you change? (Change, Tracy Chapman)

Freedom comes in stages, and it starts with change. The time to change is now, because I am afraid that very soon, we will not have a choice in the direction we take.

Don't you understand what I'm tryin' to say
Can't you feel the fears I'm feelin' today?
If the button is pushed, there's no runnin' away
There'll be no one to save, with the world in a grave
[Take a look around ya boy, it's bound to scare ya boy]

And you tell me
Over and over and over again, my friend
Ah, you don't believe
We're on the eve
of destruction. (Eve of Destruction, Barry McGuire)

Yes, dear friends, we are on the eve of destruction. The time to put down that remote control is now.

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Barbara H. Peterson is retired from the California Department of Corrections, where she worked as a Correctional Officer at Folsom Prison. She was one of the first females to work at the facility in this classification. After retirement, she went to (more...)
 
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