Reflections on fighting for freedom
By Nancy B. Loughlin
Published in News Press on July 12, 2016

freedomOur quests for “freedom” are bondage.

Battles over our guns, abortion rights, health care, imbibing our drugs of choice and marrying whom we choose can be noble causes, yet they are all small potatoes.

As our social media newsfeeds populate with pro-Our Side memes and we slap bumper stickers on our cars and argue to the death with those who disagree, we’re drowning in the attachment to external freedom.

Freedom fighting is not fueled by anger, rage, resentment, revenge, our own private baggage, violence, force, or the selfish desire to create a world conforming to our personal tastes. (Someone once said to me, “Wouldn’t it be great to blow up the world and start over?”)

The ultimate freedom fight is to be free of self, ego, the shames of the past and the worries of the future.  Without awareness of this basic spiritual freedom, our external battles are for naught. We may score fleeting political victories, but we will never be free.

Yes, step to the political arena and confront worldly circumstances, but let’s check our stridency and ourselves before everything blows up.

Sixteenth Street Baptist Church

On the Sunday of the American Independence Day Weekend, I was in Alabama, and I sat in the pews of Birmingham’s Sixteenth Street Baptist Church.

Reverend Arthur Price, Jr.’s morning sermon about real freedom hypnotized me.

Our life paths are littered with circumstances.

He said we may be hooked up, messed up, jacked up.  We may get lost in the pursuit of power, prestige, position and popularity. We may navigate trials, troubles and tribulation. We may be oppressed, suppressed and depressed.

But, if you know real freedom, he said, circumstances, personal or political, cannot steal your joy.

“You’ve got to go down.  You’ve got to go down deep,” he said, and I jumped to my feet.

To reset your joy, Reverend Price reminded the congregation circumstances are opportunities to witness, to serve as examples of courage and strength as we handle adversity and to worship God.

I thought: We continue to seek community to lift our intellects with the higher principles of living. We use our bodies and minds to serve the light, motivated only by love.  And we feed our spirits, practicing serenity and integrity. It’s only the means, not the ends.

Jhana, Karma and Bhakti yoga.  Check. Check. Check.

On this Independence Day weekend, I raised my hands to the ceiling of this National Historic Landmark where, fifty-three years ago, white supremacists planted the dynamite that killed four little girls. Yet, every person under this rebuilt roof was digging deep, reaching for heart, reaching for love.

Instead of rage, circumstance yielded goodness, grace and glory.

This is sacred ground. This is freedom fighting.