A few words about liberation

I will practice saying this in an anodyne way, in a manner designed to avoid controversy, to provoke no political knee jerks or piss anybody off.  [1]

Tonight we Jews celebrate our people’s emergence from slavery to freedom, from bondage to liberty.  It is literally a celebration of liberation that requires each of us to imagine herself as a slave and to consider and commit ourselves to the duties of free people towards those who are oppressed.   We are commanded to identify with the slave, the oppressed, the victimized.  It is very, very hard to imagine the pain of slavery if you have never experienced it.

Frederick Douglass wrote about how agonizing it was to take leave of his loved ones forever when he escaped from a slave state to a free state and became, for the first time, a free human being like any other.   He commented that had it not been for these bonds of love, and the heart-crushing thought of never seeing, or even hearing from, any of your loved ones again in this world, thousands more slaves would have escaped.

We cannot dream of what we cannot imagine. The idea of something better comes first.  The vision, born in discontent, is what spurs us to action when we seek to change our condition, change the world.  At one time many ideas we all accept today were unthinkable: abolition of American slavery, the end of unlimited child labor, gay marriage, to name just three that spring to mind.  

Each of these common injustices were accepted by most people for centuries as just part of the legal and moral landscape, however unfair some may have privately agreed these things were.  The Constitution protected slavery, after all, there was no law that said children couldn’t be worked as virtual slaves without no limitation on hours or working conditions, homosexuals were long considered deviants to be punished for their sexual preference.  Today we see these things much differently, and laws were made to ensure these changes were enforced, only because, after a long, determined, principled struggle in each case, a more just idea took root in our society.

A vision of a better way always comes first.  What we can’t imagine, or name, is impossible to work towards.  The firm idea of how intolerable an injustice is must take root before any change can begin.  Before we can take steps to end oppression we need to name it, analyze it, understand it, form effective strategies to defeat it.  We also need to imagine and describe the end goal we have in mind.  

The slave dreaming of escaping, getting rich and buying slaves of his own is no dream at all, it is just more of the same.    

I’m not the only person thinking this way, that we need to dream actively of what we want to become.   Check out this beautiful vision of a better world, by several women I already admired greatly (and a couple of guys too, apparently).


[1] Tomorrow I’ll go back to business as usual, fuck this anodyne shit.  I  will thoroughly dissect pathetic porcine puppet Bill Barr’s sickeningly misleading, ass-kissing, partisan spin on Mueller’s report, the executive summary of which ends:

The conclusion that Congress may apply the obstruction laws to the President’s corrupt exercise of the powers of office accords with our constitutional system of checks and balances and the principle that no person is above the law.


Because we determined not to make a traditional prosecutorial judgment, we did not draw ultimate conclusions about the President’s conduct. The evidence we obtained about the President’s actions and intent presents difficult issues that would need to be resolved if we were making a traditional prosecutorial judgment. At the same time, if we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state. Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, we are unable to reach that judgment. Accordingly, while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.


(from Mueller’s excellent, clear, short summary of Volume II on obstruction which I urge you to read in its entirety here)

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