When my son was about six years old, and still on the autism spectrum, he stood buck naked at my bedroom door one early morning before school. He had been complaining about being expected to wear clothes (which were a sensory nightmare for my adorable little rug rat!) and was thoughtfully poking at his upper lip, a favorite stim of his at the time. Looking straight at me he said, without a hint of sarcasm, "You know mom, if we have to go to school, then we don't really live in a free country, do we?" And with that he toe walked away, shaking his naked butt and poking his lip as he pranced down the stairs.
I marveled at just how right he was. Freedom is very important to me. Indeed, it should be important to everyone. As we tell our children that they have to go to school, that they have to get vaccinated and that they have to listen to the grown-ups, we often forget to think about what we are essentially teaching. Perhaps we're too busy arguing with the school systems, teachers and government officials about our opinions on how they should be protecting our students from bullies and standardized tests. In our race to find safety for our kids we drive them everywhere, expect impossible things from teachers, essentially taking their freedom to truly teach, and drug everyone so that they can handle it all.
With the numbers of kids diagnosed as on the autism spectrum reaching 1 in 88, it's pretty clear that making all of our kids go to school isn't going to work. That a classroom for the masses just isn't a smart way to go. We all want to educate our kids, but they all need to be educated differently. It's important to our children, and our Country, that we have the freedom to do that.
I love progress, but I think it's important to forge ahead with intention, honesty and a willingness to change course. This habit of making up new rules in an attempt to get rid of every problem, is obviously not keeping us safe, and taking away our personal freedom.
Of course, in our search for safety, we don't stop with the classroom. We love our families and so chase the desire for safety everywhere our path takes us. But being alive is not about being safe. And we are losing exactly what being alive can truly be in the process. We are losing our freedom. And now we have no other lands to defeat and tame, in order to start a new colony and try again. This time we have to clean up our mess, or risk losing everything.
This hope for a safe and convenient world hasn't been very successful anyway. If a jerk wants to make a movie that taunts angry groups, he can. And people have died because of it. Should we chase more rules and regulations so this sort of thing can't happen?
If a man wants to stock pile ammunition and weapons in order to shoot up a movie theater filled with innocent people; brothers and sisters and mothers and sons who would lose their lives, breaking the hearts of their family members , he can. Should we run around fighting to take away more freedoms to fix this problem?
If a mentally unstable mom wants to wait until her husband is at work to drown her kids, hoping to save them from an eternity in Hell by killing them while they are still innocent, she can. Should we start forcing all potential moms to undergo psychiatric evaluations? Would that work?
I argue that we cannot make living life safe. And that insisting on regulations, rules and have to's only perpetuates the problem. We are animals of this planet and have a basic right to freedom. Our souls, hearts, minds, beings, or essence-- whatever you're comfortable calling it--needs this.
My husband and I have different colored skin, and we appreciate with volume the untold numbers of men, women and children who lost their lives and rights in the unnecessary fight for our freedom to love each other comfortably. These brave people knew that safety was not as necessary as freedom, and that true freedom would only be won with intention and insistence.
I am by no means saying we don't need government, or rules. I like social programs, roads and regulations. They rarely work smoothly, but the meaning behind them is beautiful, and at the end of the day we can only be sure of our meaning. I just think we should tread very carefully in these waters, and recognize them for what they are, even when we've floated down stream and think we might be out of any danger. Maybe even especially then.
Mood altering medications for everyone, GMO munchies, the community of the disabled and economic concerns are a few areas where we are quickly losing in the battle for freedom. When we keep Band-Aiding every problem with more regulations, every painful situation with new rules, we lose something much more important than staying safe. We lose a piece of what we are. We are all different, sometimes clashing--always trying-- beings. Freedom is not safe, but it is alive.
It is our most basic right, and we are giving it away.