Like a bird
on the wire
Like a drunk
in a midnight choir
I have tried, in my way
to be free.Leonard Cohen
I hope there will be many readers out there, when they see these words, will hear the gravel and gravity of Cohen’s voice. When it came to vocalizing, whether that was in song or in speech, Leonard Cohen was gifted with a timbre that matched the wisdom he wanted to convey.
Freedom…now there is a word that comes to us like the wrapper around an almost empty box. It is up to each one of us to give it content. It has been touted in the name of religion, with promises of escape from the fear of being mortal. Communism promises freedom from inequality. Democracy promises the freedom to have your say. Totalitarianism simply invites you to hand your freedom over to the powerful, self-selected few.
The vision that drives Human Rights is based on the idea that true freedom is when every single human person is free to choose what will shape their life, their work, and their relationship with others. All within a social context in which we measure how our own freedom enhances or detracts from the abiity of others to live out their hopes for well-being.
The reality of lockdown and isolation during the current pandemic presents us with an opportunity to revisit our own idea of what it means to be free. I cannot speak for others, but for the sake of clarity, I suggest that it is helpful to make a distinction between what I want to be free FROM, and what I want to be free TO ENJOY. These two things are intricately linked, of course. But, if we spend some time consIdering them separately, then we might understand our own desires a little better. We might even see other people more clearly.
IN YOUR MEDITATION TODAY
AS YOU STILL YOUR BODY
AND CALM YOUR BREATH
LET YOURSELF BE…
THE BIRD ON THE WIRE
WHAT DOES IT FEEL LIKE TO FLY?
WHAT IS IT LIKE TO BE CAGED?
IF YOU HAD WORDS INSTEAD OF WINGS
WHAT WOULD YOU SAY?
THAT YOU ARE THE DRUNK IN THE MIDNIGHT CHOIR
WHAT BROUGHT YOU TO THIS PLACE?
WHAT KIND OF SAVIOUR DID YOU HOPE TO FIND?
CAN YOU HEAR YOUR OWN DISCORDANT VOICE?
HAVE COMPASSION FOR YOURSELF
HAVE COMPASSION FOR EVERYONE IN THE SPACE AROUND YOU
LISTEN TO THEM ALL