We were Born to be Free

Disclaimer: This post may get you thinking. It contains deep thoughts and maybe slightly controversial aspects. The author is not sorry for these random philosophical wanderings.

Is the Russian Federation turning into the new North Korea?

I am sure many of you have heard or read about many of the unbelievable injustice events taking place in Russia these days. I have followed the news about Pussy Riot for quite a few weeks now, and was disappointed/shocked/not surprised by the Putin state imposing harsh jail sentences on three members of Russian punk band Pussy Riot. But nothing could have prepared me for this morning news: chess player Garry Kasparov faces prison as well.

These developments really sadden me. After all the progress since the collapse of communism, but Putin has established another form of government that uses terror, violence and power to beat down any democratic tendencies. Freedom has never been more expensive.

I have been doing some gardening today. After three hours of weeding and being outside I tried to relax in the house, naturally I turned to YouTube. I came across an old iconic German band called Ton Steine Scherben from the 1970s. Their music is very political and expresses the wish for freedom and love. One of my favourites songs is called ‘Wir Müssen Hier Raus’ which means ‘We’ve gotta get out of here’. Its main chorus line is ‘We were born to be free’. It never fails to give me the chills. (The English lyrics will be at the bottom of my post)

Let’s just get back to the gardening. In socialist East Germany it was quite popular for people to have a garden away from the apartment/house, generally an allotment with a small hut or bungalow with some basic amenities. As people didn’t really travel that much, (many reason, government restrictions, lack of money/car etc) many spent time in their allotments to grow produce, to relax and to be their own boss. For many people that piece of land was theirs. Maybe not by deed, but they could organise it fairly freely and choose what to grow or plant and spent time there; in their own world. It was freedom. A very different kind of freedom but there is something so pure and liberating about being outdoors and (some kind of) natural environment. Many people say gardening is therapeutic. And that’s what I felt today weirdly free and content. It was great. Well, not that great, there are still so many weeds left … but three hours went by quickly and I got some good work done.

Also over the past week I had a random conversation about the movie Into the Wild, where college graduate Christopher McCandless leaves his family and life to be free from all material possessions and conventions. He travels across the US and ends up in Alaska, where his quest for complete freedom ends with his death. It’s one of my favourite films, but I also think the story (true!) is quite compelling. It’s quite extreme to what lengths this guy goes to find his own salvation or nirvana as some may say. But I also find it a bit inspiring, brave and courageous. He chose a path, and he followed it. No compromises. He went out to find freedom, and found it.

(c) 2006 Into the Wild LCC

It’s been twenty years (in September) that McCandless’ remains have been found. His story has been published in journals, books and film and lives on and continues to inspire people to find their own freedom.

I appreciate the freedom to choose my path and the freedom to voice my opinions, no matter how lame or controversial they may be. There will always be people that want different things than available and there will be more restrictions in the future to ‘keep us safe’ or to ‘avaoid’ certain things from happening. It sure is an interesting an exciting time that we live in. But one thing will never change, people will fight for their freedom (please insert your own definition).

Translated lyrics

In bed, nobody likes being alone

and in my bed there’s still room for you.
But my old man is home just about every day
and I think he’s got something against you.
For me, the world’s all out of order,
not at seven in the morning, and not after the news.
To me, “The Word For Sunday” is “fuck it”
and the word for Monday is “fake sick from work”.

We’ve gotta get out of here! This is hell!
It’s like being in prison!
We were born to be free!
We’re two people among millions; we’re not alone.
And we’re gonna make it, we’re gonna make it.

My old man says the world’s not gonna change,
he thinks he knows what’s going on.
He seems to think he can forget all of the shit,
by hanging out at the bar and drinking away his pain.
He says the greatest place to be is on a bar stool
He’s right; at home there’s hardly room for three
That’s why I spend the whole day at work.
I guess you can say that I’m free.

(Chorus)

We’re going to make it
And what can stop us? No money and no weapons
if we want it that way. We’re gonna make it.
We were born to be free
We’re two people among millions, we’re not alone
We were born to be free
We are 60 million, we are not alone
We were born to be free
We were born to be free
We were born to be free
Free!

NOTES:

“The Word For Sunday” is a long-running religious TV show, occupying a slot after the late-night news on Saturdays.

“60 million” refers to West Germany’s population at the time.

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