This I Believe

Ricardo - San Diego, California
Entered on January 14, 2007
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: freedom

I believe we all need freedom. Freedom is not a state that would benefit us temporarily; rather, freedom is a lifestyle that allows us to be comfortable with ourselves; to be ourselves.

My family had a pair of cockatiels for four years. The birds would live in a cage outside my home; one cold winter, my mother decided to bring the birds inside. My mother opened the cage, and grabbed a cockatiel, and just as she did this, the second took off, flying fast and passionately. My little sister cried her eyes out for a week, and my mother would avoid the subject from feeling at fault. The remaining bird spent its time sprinting inside her cage in the house, chirping at the top of her lungs.

The escapee had never been comfortable in our home; never accustomed to humans, and would fight the other cockatiel, and when doors opened, he would fly in that direction. His recent escape was not the only time he had spent outdoors.

Whether birds and other animals feel the desire to gain freedom is debatable, but what isn’t is human desire of freedom; and I do not mean “God bless America, freedom isn’t free,” as I refer to freedom, rather, the notion that we can do and be as we feel best. Freedom is more universal than a concept Americans use, though it is the sole underlying reason why the United States exists. Freedom from oppression and conformity drives revolutions – the Storming of the Bastille in France, the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the Hindu belief that Nirvana releases us.

Freedom, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines as “N. 1: The quality or state of being free; independence” and other subjective definitions. History and definitions do not form feelings, however, and no single event or idea defines freedom as a single action may prove.

No matter how the grass is on the other side, whether greener or dry, it may feel no worse than this grass. Perhaps this is why the cockatiel raced from its cage; leaving warmth, constant food, and a friend cockatiel; the bird soared, to not be seen again. The grass must be greener, and if not, to die under one’s own means. To “die on your feet,” and not to “live on your knees.”

With freedom comes the possibility of failure, death and unhappiness, but whatever the outcome, freedom allows us to form, we are solely responsible for them. This responsibility, understanding that if one fails, it is one’s sole fault, is what scares people. Scares me sometimes as well. But when we grow balls and overcome our fears of failure, and understand the possibilities and liberties freedom gives us, we become happier, better and more connected with our earth and selves.

Freedom allows us to seek what we love. Be who we love. To love. Maybe our escaped cockatiel understood freedom better than us humans have long considered freedom to be. Maybe this birdbrain freed us all.