Ready to be free?

The abused woman tried to explain that she should give her husband another chance.

She did.

He beat her up again.

And again, she explained that maybe she deserved his anger this time.  She should have known that he was very stressed out, and the children should have been quieter.

 We went through this process five times. Only when her children begged her to leave, did she do it, and with some regret.  Her self-esteem was so low that she did not trust her ability to be by herself.

She was not ready to be free.

When Moses took the Israelites out of Egypt, the Bible tells us that they wandered in the desert for forty years before they got to the Promised Land.

The rabbis ask, “Is the journey from Egypt to Canaan that long?”

The answer is that God wanted the generation of slaves to die, and that a new generation that did not live the life of slavery would inherit the land. And the fact is that the Bible keeps on telling us again and again about the cries of the Israelites wishing to go back to Egypt, because they desired the food that they used to eat!

They were not ready to be free.

This blog questions the belief that everyone is ready to be free, and that every human-being knows what to do with freedom.  The latest news from the Arab Spring stimulated these thoughts:

Gaddafi’s death seemed to have been as brutal as his dictatorship; as cruel as his treatment of his people.  Some say he deserved it.

I say: “That’s not the issue”.

The issue is that we often “help” other countries to be free – to gain “democracy”, when the nation and its people are not ready for it. The abused wife creates a return to status quo. (E.g.: Iraq.) The abused child becomes an abuser, and beats up his son. (E.g.: Libya).

Moreover, the soldiers who come to “free” the often-unwelcoming nation come back maimed physically and emotionally.  Predictably, the mayhem they witness triggers the most depraved part of the few who engage in acts of unspeakable cruelty such as the U.S Army sergeant who is charged with murdering civilians and taking body parts for war trophies in Afghanistan.

Terror begets terror and cruelty begets cruelty. You can’t jump into a pile of manure and come out smelling like a rose – even if you think you’re the good-guy.

To be free is not just a state of physical freedom.  It is a process that one grows into when there is the emotional maturity and the deep understanding of all its implication.  For example, very few ten-year-olds manage to be on their own.  Similarly, it takes years (generations?) before a nation matures into its REAL freedom; when they treat their people like they want to be treated and when one ethnic group stops killing the other (like a family where sibling rivalry runs rampant).

In both cases, you need a strong parent – someone who is going to give the time, patience and mentoring for growth and maturity. This is not what we did in Iraq, or in Afghanistan, or in Libya.

In the meantime we hear about horrific acts of retaliations in Libya, a country where revengeful acts are the norm. When we release the abused prematurely, he/she/they become the abuser. We witness the same kind of brutality attributed to Gaddafi by his opponents.

We invade a country in order to depose its leader, and invasion is brutal.  We enter a new country hoping to create democracy…  Our democracy; but it is a democracy fraught with blood.  And, we force them to accept our own version of democracy.

Alas, we were not invited.  Maybe they were not ready to be free?

With that, I can’t help but end with a cynical quote by Churchill: “The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.”

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About rachel bar

Psychotherapist and supervisor.
This entry was posted in Democracy, Freedom, Gaddafi, Government, Impulse Control, politics, Revolution, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to Ready to be free?

  1. Margot says:

    Very powerful and right on.

  2. Sherry Winston says:

    I think that you hit the nail on the head. Very insightful….but that’s what I’d expect from you. 🙂

  3. Dvora Weil says:

    Wow, Rachel, so inspiring. I could not agree with you more. To handle freedom one needs to be free from the within. The Turks gained their freedom in 1923 with the help of a leader, Atta Turk, who were one of the people. He, too prepared them slowly. Projecting one’s nations aspirations on the other is wrong, no matter how noble those aspirations are.

  4. Dalia Kenig says:

    Rachel, I totally agree with your analysis of readiness for freedom. Very Insighful and well said. In our profession, I find it to be a seductive trap for therapists trying to rescue an oppressed/abused client out of their situation before the person is ready and has sufficient internal and external resources to be free, emphasis on “being” and like you said it is a process of learning and maturing, not a singular act.
    I remember a wise phrase that says: “You’ve got to be before you can do and do before you can have.”
    In the case of nations I guess the same principles apply, yet it is a longer process, generations. Unfortunetly, we don’t leave long enough in many cases to witness the outcome.
    Now since you did such great job writing on this topic, I am curious to find out your analysis about the maturity and readiness for freedom in Palestine and Israel.

    • rachel bar says:

      I feel the same about premature “rescuing”. Often I want my clients to be in a place that they are not ready for yet, and I/we need to remember that just because we want it, it’s not going to happen for the other person. The quote you mentioned is right on. As far as the Israeli Palesinian conflict goes, I know that I am not objective. I want peace, I want freedom but I AM also my father’s daughter.

  5. Barbara Cooper says:

    What an interesting blog, Rachel. I was particularly interested in what you said about why it took the Jews 40 years of wandering the desert- so the generation with the slavery consciousness would die out. (Here I thought it was because Moses, being a typical man, wouldn’t ask for directions!) Yet what you said is so true- it is always the consciousness- be it of one person or one nation that creates its freedom or lack thereof. We spoiled Americans have always been free- yet so many of us don’t even bother to vote. Our great grandmothers fought hard for women to get the right to vote, yet so many of us take it so for granted, we don’t even bother. The founding fathers of this great nation fought so hard and risked so much for this precious freedom, yet today I see our freedoms being taken away ever so slowly and quietly and we just accept it- no one speaks out and screams unfair! The authorities make the decisions based on what they want and the people just shrug and accept it. I wasn’t born in the 1930’s, but this is exactly what happened in Germany. Little by little and like a thief in the night, the rights of Jews were taken away. In the beginning, the Jews just accepted and adapted to the new rules. Until the choice to adapt was also taken away.
    Here’s what I think. Most people don’t want to think for themselves. They like being told what to do (or not do) It’s so much easier! Look at all the great religions of the world. They are all guilty of telling their flocks what to do, what to eat (or not eat) when to pray, how to live. And they use fear of horrific consequences to get their point across. I’m not criticizing any religious person here. Believe how you wish to believe, follow the rules or not, oh wait, that involves freedom! Freedom to choose, to think whatever thoughts you choose. We all have always had that and no one can ever take that away. I laugh whenever I hear of the great “prayer in schools” debate. No one can ever stop anyone from saying a silent prayer whenever they choose in whatever way they choose to pray. So why is this such a big deal? Oh, because someone wants me to pray the way they do. And that involves taking away my freedom. It is the same with nations that don’t have “freedom”. The consciousness of the people accepts their lot and so an evil dictator grabs the power and makes the decisions.
    For anyone to truly have freedom, it must start with thinking for yourself and not following the masses. There was a show on Broadway years ago called “Shenandoah” In it was a song called “Freedom”. Here are some of the lyrics from that song written by Peter Udell with music by Gary Geld.
    “Freedom ain’t a state like Maine or Virginia
    Freedom ain’t across some county line
    Freedom is a flame that burns within ya
    Freedom’s in the state of mind!

  6. Hmmm…very well put Rachel..Freedom without cost is worthless…but Freedom without readiness is expensive…

    I guess My questions is who determines what freedom is worth? the insiders or the outsiders ’cause to me, whoever decides will never foot the entire bill and with the cost so high it have to be shared among both sides…

  7. Oren says:

    Wise and simply true! Thank you Rachel.

  8. Linda Joan Lipp, MFT says:

    A very thought-provoking blog, Rachel. I agree wholeheartedly that individual’s must grow up in many ways before the can accept the responsibility of freedom. But I really question that nation’s act like unruly children and I do not see most individuals being without responsibility toward their fellows. I think most of humanity are like sheep — seeking to herd together. I believe a great deal of good could come from a more careful nurturance of the small part of the population who show a natural tendency to lead rather than follow. A benign dictator is actually one of the most efficient and effective forms of government. Of course, there is still the issue of who does the choosing and the unfairness of nurturning a small number of people more than all of the herd. But, actually if you want to change the world as a whole for the better, develop benevolent leaders at all levels of government (schools, businesses, the courts, public office) and make sure everyone has equal access to food, clothing, shelter, and entertainment and you would have gone a long way toward solving the problems of modern “democracy”. Respectfully, Joan lipp

    • rachel bar says:

      Joan, I think that the idea of a benign dictator is very unpopular today, and yet I find it quite acceptable, as the democracy that we have gets shaped by power brokers anyway.

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