Tag Archives: 4th of July

Revolution From Within

2 Jul

I have been silent about politics for quite some time. Not out of privilege or apathy or laziness, as some would accuse. I stopped speaking out because in the same way trauma renders people without power or words, I had none.

After years of advocating for external political change, the famous feminist Gloria Steinem wrote a book called, “Revolution From Within.” The book examines how inequity can crush self-esteem but that ultimately, true power stems from within. Steinem espouses the importance of inner strength, particularly when the outside environment does not change and continues to subjugate.

Somewhere in my life, I learned that life is not fair or a fairy tale. More often than not, the rich get richer while the poor get poorer, all the isms persist, and women will always be the second sex. While I want to think otherwise, sadly, human ignorance, greed and evil will probably repeat the narrative of marginalization and exploitation until the end of time.

So how then do we not despair? How do we uphold civil values and justice and dreams for a better world?

We do as Steinem advocates. We start a “revolution from within.” We work on ourselves. We stumble to find our worth in a world that wants to beat it out of us. And we help others to see their worth. We find meaning and value right now in the small things and we discard all the nonsense that wounds and separates. We hold our heads up high and know that real power is something no one can ever take away from us even when humans hurt each other beyond measure.


What is Freedom; What is Independence.

4 Jul


For years I gauged independence and freedom on a continuum of relationship – how close was I in connection with others and what was the quality of those connections? The same question could be asked of humanity at large. Did relationships bring freedom or enslavement, liberty or injustice?

As a child, connections were solid in my world. That resulted in great inner freedom to develop and thrive. My world was safe and pleasurable. Reflecting that larger reality, I remember riding in a red wagon in an Independence parade in Hales Corners, Wisconsin, waving a flag at the crowds. I was five years old and away from home for the first time. My parents had put me on a plane, flying me all the way from California to Wisconsin to spend time with my relatives. My hair was in pig tails and I wore some form of red, white, and blue. I recall swatting at mosquitos during fireworks, eating hot dogs and hamburgers, and washing my hands that were sticky from orange, red, and purple popsicles. I was very young but I already had a sense of the right kind of autonomy.

As a teen though, nothing filled me deeper than the longing for freedom from what did not feel ideal: I wanted away from my father’s destructive authority, the entrapment of my mother’s drinking, and the tyranny and banality of high school social cliques. I also wanted freedom and abundance for the world. It sickened me that my classmates laughed when they saw pictures of children from the third world with distended bellies from hunger. Those same peers had driven to school in their BMWs and Porsches, yet had no real appreciation for their not-hard-won privilege and entitlement.

The world is not fair and the world is not free. We celebrate our independence from the British yet we enslaved African Americans and decimated the Native American Indians. We think we’ve moved way beyond those times yet human and sex trafficking turns a huge profit, as does racism and discrimination.

I often think of individuals who found freedom while being enslaved in some way, shape or form. I think of Nelson Mandela, Anne Frank, and Malala Yousafzai. They were/are individuals who found spiritual independence and connection with the world at large while in prison, hidden, or suffering violence.

We have little control really over the big factors of our external lives. We can’t pick what family we’re born into or our ethnic affiliation, or whether we come into the world rich or poor. We can’t control who will love and accept us and who won’t and whether we fit in or whether we don’t. We also can’t always choose if we’re single or married, or if we can bear children. The only real freedom lies in our relationship with God, as we best understand that entity. Freedom and independence come when we realize that in God we are whole, liberated, and eternally connected and accepted. Anything else is illusory, temporary, and ever changing. Likewise, the things we think will free us often do the opposite, if we are not right with ourselves and God. Freedom rings when we walk each step of life’s battlefields and glories hand and hand with the Maker.