Jo Jankowicz

A Plea for Freedom? What freedom?

Perhaps freedom is never ‘granted’.You have to arrogate it, some say. The colonial powers, feeling free to do so in view of their military superiority, claimed and brutally exercised their ‘right’ to conquer foreign lands, subject, exploit and if thought ‘necessary,’ kill fellow human beings. Today, transnational corporations exercise their freedom in many ways, in a world market that is becoming an ever more ominous reality. Corporations control the mainstream media and exercise their freedom of informing, distracting and deluding us, at will. Today, many ordinary citizens, young and old, have come to take this as a normal fact of life. “What can you do, what can you do about it, after all?”, many ask and shrug their shoulders. When the opportunity arises, quite a few of us, having swallowed so much and having surrendered to the ‘fact of life’ that the other party was stronger and that they better give in, are ready to elbow away a supposedly weaker fellow human being, if only they can hope to realize a small gain.

There is another concept, another awareness of freedom, of course. It is not anchored in discourse. It is much more existential: something sensed, experienced. It is a sometimes vaguely encountered, sometimes quietly and warmly lived, sometimes a joyously and even exuberantly shared experience. And though not experienced like this by all, something, its truest root, is present in all of us. It is a deep longing inside human beings, whether they admit it or not, whether they face it and embrace it, or suppress it, keeping it hidden from themselves.

But is there more to it than this quality of being an immense (yet often  muted, buried) longing? Is it ‘just’ an ‘oceanic feeling’? I think this is already a lot, it is very much and it should not be underestimated. For it is truly at the core of all human ‘antennas’ for what freedom implies.
But something else is added to this. That we are alone, and not alone. That each one of us must be responsible for himself and what he does, and that he exists together with others, and shares responsibilities with them, and for them, as they share responsibilities, each one, for himself or herself, and for me.
Freedom therefore is inseparable from a longing to be responsible above all to our truest inner voice, our conscience, rather than to outside masters and to rules forced upon us, with physical or psychic violence. It is a longing to preserve or, if almost lost, regain something that is present in children, as long as deformation has not set in. 
But it is also a longing to be aware of and in tune with our warm, loving, caring, life-asserting capacities. The potential to be creative, to be trusting, to open up to others, to sense and respond to their needs.

Such freedom  has a lot to do with a sense that we can change what is depressing and suffocating, in us and in the world. That we can move walls that separate us from others and keep us enclosed in a prison of petty concerns, of ‘normal’ selfishness that ignores what is patently wrong in the world. And thus, especially, the psychic and material needs of others.

If we want to understand what freedom is, perhaps we can discover it in the curious and unafraid way a child sets out to discover the world immediately at hand: the human and, at the same time, not so human universe we are all born into. An imperfect, and all but just world, where so much should worry us and turn us into workers for a better world, a more human, more sisterly society. At least if we kept our inner membrane that is so finely attuned to what is right and what is wrong from being encapsuled in a shell. If we slowly or all of a sudden discover again how to warmly and lovingly dissolve the psychic armour that is formed by too many disappointments. By too much hardness encountered and too much violence suffered. By too many beatings taken, often when we were still quite young.

If we want to regain an understanding of what freedom is, it doesn’t help that much to listen to politicians preaching freedom and talking about the free world, our “free societies.” It is too apparent that our “free societies” are not free, in many respects.  That the politicians and their speech-writers have recourse to shale jargon. And the misuse of the words they claim to define by their usage would make the words themselves turn hollow and meaningless if there were not other uses, other contexts, different experiences. Like that experience of looking at the stars, in a still night, far away from the lights of the city. And turning quiet, suddenly. Free of any weight we might otherwise feel on our shoulders, placed there by worrying and depressive circumstances. Like the discovery that we can love. Like the discovery of the beauty of a poem, or a film sequence, or a painting. Like all realization that brotherhood, sisterly reaching out to others, is possible.

Freedom begins when we try the impossible. That which we have been told so often cannot be done, without being out of sync with “reality.” That which will “only hurt ourselves.” Freedom begins with confidence in ourselves, with our ability to join hands. And with our acts, our practical attempts, engaged upon alone and in cooperation with others, that aim to make this world a place that is less of a battlefield and a place of cut-throat competition where the weakest, again and again, children, women, the poor and hungry of the world, animals and plants, soils and rivers and seas, are asked to “pay the bill.”




Occupy Wall Street

We Are Change

Nathan Schneider, "From Occupy Wall Street to Occupy Everywhere"
(The Nation, Oct. 31, 2011)


"people of the world, rise up"
Aufruf von K21 zur Demo am 15.Okt.
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Echte Demokratie jetzt
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attac Aufruf zur Demo am 15.Okt.2011

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15 October Net

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Manifesto of Democracia real YA!

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Tito Drago,"'Indignant' 
Demonstrators Marching to 
Brussels" (IPS, July 30, '11) 

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Students in Chile protest
(xinhua net, Oct.20, 2011)

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Ahmad Fouad Najem, "Forbidden"

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