Can you hear me; this one voice of dissent speaking out for freedom, the freedom to be who I am–in peace?
Would you listen; as I gave my thoughts on where we have arrived together–knowing that I am not walking in your shoes, but my own–and the path we travel intersects nowhere else but where we are?
Could you understand; if I choose words you have not chosen to describe a shadowy place you have not seen–knowing you will only see it through my eyes?
Will you see my reasons; even when they are obscured by a time and place you couldn’t know–strong enough in meaning to me that I am willing to stand against the tide to defend them?
I dissent for freedom–the freedom to be me, not a manipulated version of a human clone aching to fit in, hoping to find confidence among the crowded masses chanting in one voice.
We are not the same. Beyond our humanity, beyond this life, no person will walk where I have gone: no person will know what I have seen or felt, no person will share in who I am. I dissent for freedom–the freedom to be who I am.
Do you know who you are? Do you know where you are going? Do you know what it will take for you to be free?
The chains that bind you are not from without. Can you hear me? Do you understand?
The prison you claim we are all being involuntarily locked into is not their prison; its bars are simply the bars we choose to stand behind–you choose–some of us choose freedom.
As you stand together, yelling in one voice, losing yourself in the safety of uniformity, claiming dissent–the piece of ground you stand on is shrinking, the space you occupy grows darker and the walls close in a little tighter–your freedom is dying–can you hear me? Do you understand?
Freedom moves forward. Freedom expands. Freedom grows: Freedom lives. Ask yourselves–are you living?
Where is the music, the creativity, the hope? Where is the future when the choice you make is to stand on shrinking ground and opine about freedoms lost?
You say that hope is lost–it is lost only when you choose to give it away. There is always hope–as long as you have hands to work, feet to walk, a mind to think and a heart strong enough to care to hear the music, to know — we are our freedom.
There is work to be done to correct the wrongs. We know what is wrong–do you know what must be done to make it right?
There are seeds to be sown. We know what must grow–do you know what must be done to give it light?
There is a direction to be taken. We know the goal–do you know how to take the steps to move us closer?
Freedom needs momentum. Are you ready to move forward or will you choose to remain standing on the shrinking ground you have stood on for far too long?
Isn’t it time we moved on?
We need our voices–not rising as one, but rising as ALL.
We have our hands, our feet, our minds and our hearts–shouldn’t we be uniting, not as one, but as all? Shouldn’t we be using the strengths of our uniqueness, our individual minds, our different talents to join together, creating the movement forward our future requires.
We are the hope. Do we show it by standing on an island shouting the words of dissent, waiting for others to do the work to make us free? Or shall we be that hope by realizing we are free already, embracing that freedom and using it wisely.
Look around, that shrinking ground you are standing on is not yet an island. We have a choice; to remember our abilities and use our hands, our feet, our minds and our hearts to live, to do, to be the change we need.
Shouldn’t we be looking back less and ahead more? The place for us is in front of us, and we are not going to get there waiting for someone else to take the first steps.
Will you dissent for freedom? Will we live freely, respecting the differences in others? Will we allow those differences to come together, working to create the community we are in danger of giving away if we do not step off the shrinking ground and move forward in a new direction?
When will we allow ourselves to be free?
Monica, and her husband, Sgt. Kevin Benderman, a ten-year Army veteran who served a combat tour in Iraq and a year in prison for his public protest of war, continue to work within their community for peace.
MONICA BENDERMAN is the wife of Sgt. Kevin Benderman, a ten-year Army veteran who served a combat tour in Iraq and a year in prison for his public protest of war and the destruction it causes to civilians and to American military personnel. Please visit their website, www.BendermanDefense.org to learn more.
Monica and Kevin may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org