Half Free Isn’t Free

Below is Whisper #27 from my latest book, 48 WHISPERS, which is a collection of photographs and personal meditations created across a decade of travel to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and the surrounding northern plains. 

The highest aspiration for mankind should be freedom for all. But freedom is elusive, tricky to define, and surprisingly hard to accept in all forms.

The absence of subjugation. The power of self-determination. The state of being unrestricted. These are common descriptions of freedom’s lofty demands. But the pursuit of personal sovereignty comes with a price. The opportunity to succeed requires the corresponding right to stumble and fall. 

There can be no freedom to earn more without the possibility of setback and loss. There is no opportunity to be selected without the potential of being passed over. There is no chance to earn an A without the corresponding presence of an F. The possibility of coming up short is freedom’s price of participation. When we seek to eliminate the fall we inadvertently prevent the rise. True freedom makes space for all outcomes.

Additionally, the historic challenge posed by freedom is that some have expanded it for themselves by withholding it from others. This long-standing shortcut is occasionally alluring but always unsustainable. Many a revolution has achieved freedom for some and then proceeded to deprive it from others. Freedom for one requires freedom for all.

Free to succeed. Free to fail. Free to stumble. Free to prevail.

Freedom is not finite. Another’s gain does not limit your access to freedom. The expansion of freedom for one advances freedom for all. Humanity’s highest destiny is for everyone to soar. True success is additive to others. Anyone’s progress helps us all.