What are you willing to stand for? Are you willing to die for it? When we put aside the “Give me ____ or give me death” glamorized stance, we eventually find our way to that thing, the foundation that girds us–at least we hope to.
But in Hari’s honest deliberation about their own principles, and in the process stumbles upon thoughts of freedom, what it means, and what it looks like on and to them.
The questions and answers continue to evolve, shifting before their very eyes, teaching us not only that the journey is just as important as the destination, but that before us lies a unique opportunity: to create, reclaim, and redefine everything, even freedom.
Something I’ve been asking myself a lot about recently is what is it I would die for. I don’t know the answer to that and I think that’s a little frightening because it’s about your principles. For me, my principles are my life, so they should be worth my life. It’s about asking whether or not my principles are really my principles. Or am I thinking of them in the wrong way? There are some things I would die for, but I want to know where the cut-off is. Where do I live and where do I die?
For example, freedom. How much of my freedom would I give up just to live in this world? The people I love, how much of their safety and happiness would I give up to live in this world? Then there is my community, black folks. My passion for my people and what I would do for that. Myself. If I was at a point where I couldn’t find happiness, whether by sickness or disease, is happiness worth my life? Is that the only reason that you live? I know that’s probably not the answer…but I haven’t figured it out. What do you do if you’re never happy? I’ve learned that there are more things in the world than happiness.
To me, freedom is having agency to be able to affect your life and the lives around you purposefully and to a substantial degree. It means the difference between being free and not being a slave, and it’s the same way you can not be in a prison but still not be free. You could be a prisoner to abusive parents or a family or a community. It’s more than not being in chains but being able to influence the course of your life and your community. Sometimes I wonder what that limit is. What is substantial? That’s what I’m trying to figure out.
To me, freedom is having agency to be able to affect your life and the lives around you purposefully and to a substantial degree.
What does free look like to me? Being able to talk about love without being able to talk about hurt. We live in a world where there’s only love and hurt, connected–there’s only the joy you feel as a black person on top of the background of the death you constantly experience in your personal life or in the media. So, freedom, to me, would be living without that painful background. I want to be able to have that, just for a moment.
I don’t believe that under every conception of society you can’t have love without pain, but I think that’s where we live now. Therefore, freedom would feel like being able to finally experience one without the background of the other; it would mean there are no systems in place that abuse me or the people around me. Any people around me. So, we’re nowhere near freedom.
But the world that we have, know, and are taught, doesn’t have to be the only world there is. It isn’t the only world that ever was. We should be taking the time to create new worlds. Part of that is to go on these journeys of constant evolution into new beings that weren’t even possible before. To reclaim and re-define everything, even freedom.