Friday, April 6, 2012

The bells of freedom

Let the bells of freedom sound:
we are free, we are free, we are free.

For a thousand generations shall this story be told, each generation to the next:
we are free, we are free, we are free.

We dry at last the bitter tears of slavery:
we are free, we are free, we are free.

And you shall teach your child on that day, saying:
we are free, we are free, we are free.

Let no one doubt the power of faith. Our bodies were broken by hard labor, yet now we are free. Our children were slaughtered, yet now we are free. We were there, yet now we are free.

We fight to give our children a better life, just as our parents fought for us, just as their parents fought for them, all the way back to our ancestors enslaved in Egypt. We are taught that we were there ourselves, that each generation must face that struggle, must rouse and rise up and search for freedom. And now we are free.

I have never seen a righteous man forsaken, or his children begging for bread. Is that line more difficult than the statement that we are free? We jail more than a million people a month in our country. I went to high school with 1500 other people. That’s how many people are locked up every hour. Do we understand freedom differently when so many of us taste imprisonment?

Serious people argued in the Supreme Court just last week that our only real freedom resides in our right not to act. Is that what we now mean by freedom? Has the famous American optimism been transmuted into a faint hope that we won’t have to leave our homes?

Each generation faces the struggle for freedom, just in a new form. May remembering our ancestors in Egypt give us hope and give us strength. We have faced worse, and survived. We have taken many steps towards freedom. We celebrate each of those steps towards freedom, and say dayenu even as we take the next step. And we proclaim our freedom in order to claim our freedom. We are free, we are free, we are free.

Happy Passover.

1 comment:

Vardibidian said...

We say both "we were slaves and now we are free" and "now we are slaves, next year may we be free". I like that combination, which reflects the state of things pretty well. Of course, that combination will always be true; it's important to look (as you are doing) at the specific ways they are true in this year's world.