Thursday, December 8, 2016

Freedom


Yesterday a sixth-grade boy came up to my desk and said he was conducting a survey about freedom. He wanted to know if I would help. I said yes.

"Do you believe you're free?" he asked.

"Ummm...yeeeeaaahh..." I said hesitantly, simultaneously weighing the question and wondering where this survey might be headed.

He briefly typed something into his laptop, said "Okay, thanks," and walked away.

Definitely the shortest survey I've ever encountered. And somewhat thought-provoking!

I mean, I guess I'm as free as a person could be -- freer than millions of people around the world, for sure. But all of us are a little constrained by finances, or family obligations, or other life circumstances. Right? There's never absolute freedom. That's just disconnection -- a "heart that's full and hollow, like a cactus tree," as Joni Mitchell sang.

I wonder if there would have been other questions if I'd said no?


This is our library Christmas tree. We're being very internationally minded this year! Is it appropriate to decorate a Christmas tree with flags, including those of non-Christian nations? I'm choosing to believe it's fine. A tree is a fairly secular symbol, after all -- we don't even put a star on ours -- and we could all use some global togetherness right about now.

That flag at top left, the red and white one, is Greenland, by the way. I had to look it up!

(Top photo: A street in Soho, on Saturday.)

16 comments:

Yorkshire Pudding said...

In the hit British sitcom of the 1970's - "Are You Being Served?", Mr Humphries would frequently announce, "I'm free!"

Shooting Parrots said...

As Rosa Luxemburg said, “Freedom is always and exclusively freedom for the one who thinks differently.”

e said...

Do you do anything for other holidays during this season???

Ms. Moon said...

Somehow, I don't think that survey is going to be valid.

ellen abbott said...

considering that the 'christmas tree' is a stolen symbol from the pagan nature based celebrations of the winter solstice I'd say that you can put anything on it you want.

Elizabeth said...

I love this little story.

Nasreen Iqbal said...

That's funny. It's usually a loaded question when someone asks me that. of course, they only ask me that online, where everything is a loaded quesiton, and the follow-up is generally something about how I'm a sheep who doesn't know I'm a sheep.

Which I guess meanms that 6th graders are preferable to people on the internet.

Sharon Anck said...

I wonder where he was going with that little survey. I would have probably answered the same sort of hesitating way. I agree, I'm pretty darn free compared to some but I'm still constrained by age and money and responsibilities.
I love the tree! I think that international touch is a great idea.
On another subject, I watched a commentary on the PBS News Hour last night. It was a young woman strongly advocating for learning a foreign language. It made me think of you and your French lessons. I loved one comment she made that learning a foreign language was a "quiet revolutionary act."

37paddington said...

i adore that tree. as for the boy's survey, i'm really curious about what he's going for. if you find out, will you report back?

jenny_o said...

Intriguing survey ... Wouldn't it have been interesting if you'd given your qualified answer? Even if he then said it was a yes/no answer, you'd have given him something to think about. Maybe. If he was a thinker.

I like the flags on the tree. I think you can put pretty much anything on a tree to decorate it. Except maybe miniature firearms? Not those.

Lesley UK said...

I'm not free, but I'm quite reasonably priced.

Lesley UK said...

I give discounts to ugly footballers. Terms and conditions apply

Red said...

Neat way to decorate a Christmas tree. I like that kid's survey. He's thinking. None of us are free. we all have obligations to ourselves and to others.

Linda Sue said...

freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose. buried all of my pets, children gone, don't have religion bossing me around, got a dollar in my pocket...I most certainly am free

Catalyst said...

I like your tree. Stay free, Steve.

Alphie Soup said...

'Do you believe you're free?' That is such an open question. Being the pedant I am I would have asked him the question 'Free of what?' I am the wrong person to be asking survey questions.

Alphie