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Is Freedom Really This Complicated?

Author: 
Renae Brabham
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It was Tuesday the week of July 4th, and I was downtown on Cannon Street sitting under a brilliant unfurled USA flag. As I watched the stripes snapping in the southern breeze, I thought of the significance of Old Glory and all that was on it. I imagined it with holes ripped from artillery fire, stained in blood.
 
 
 
 
Are we any closer to the freedom it represented when crafted over 300 years ago?
 
The news headlines of the week suggest not. The Trayvon Martin trial...
 
 
 
 
Paula Deen...
 
 
....and a ruling on gay rights
 
 
 
The big question: Is silence an opinion?
 
Quite possibly the loudest and most misunderstood. What do I personally feel about Paula, Trayvon, gay marriage? I wave a freedom flag with a closed mouth.
 
But it's complicated. I'm confused with the conflicting double-speak of most issues.
 
I watch the world tilt slowy... uber-crawling toward some embryonic beginning that I wouldn't classify as change yet.
 
Gay parents hurt when their sons and daughters are ostracized by society and subjected to hate, gay children hurt because they don't want to disappoint their family.
 
Families still wring their hands in angst at reunions and weddings knowing the contemptuous views of their matriarch and patriarchs concerning interracial marriages. Do we excuse their archaic views by claiming them to be pre-determined by their formative years? Do we silently pray that our children choose the route of less pain? Did the slave mother hold her newborn baby girl and pray that would be so beautiful that the plantation owner would fall in love with her and move her to the big house or does she pray that her baby girl is so ugly that she won't be looked upon and taken from her? And which is right? Who am I to say, a white southern girl? It's ludicrous for me to state that I understand the plight of the African American, the gay man or woman. 
 
So, let's say that we could wipe the slate clean and start over. Could the remedy be as simple as teaching and practicing unprejudiced love to our children from the beginning. Emphatically...
 
Yes!  Simple? No! Complicated because another family will NOT teach their children those values and it will be their hate that kills goodness. i.e,  Jesus, Martin Luther King, John F. Kennedy, Bobby Kennedy, John Lennon, Dietrich Bonhoeffer.
 
So, do I sit quietly on the porch and watch the parade go by? Is it safer to keep my opinion to myself, to silence the strike of these keys right now? Oh... Yes!   Ole black water keep on rolling, Mississippi moon won't you keep on shining on me.
 
But, the world doesn't change with safe. I think of John Mayer's song "Waiting On the World to Change." Maybe we shouldn't wait, maybe the hope of change isn't in drawing lines in the sand, maybe it's by erasing them. Maybe it's by allowing each grain of sand to fall where it's creator destined it should be.  
 
We will never be truly free until we unilaterally accept the rights of each other to choose our own freedoms without imposing them on others.
 
I don't have to march in a parade, hold a protest sign, or buy a bumper sticker. I simply treat you as I would any member of our human race. Silence is not weakness. Speeches, parades, concerts are all aftermath of what should begin in the quiet recesses of the heart. Usually beginning with truth.