May 28, 2010: “Freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose.”
The line from Janis Joplin’s 1960s hit Me and Bobby Mcgee was the first thing that sprung to mind when I read a direct message on twitter asking if I would write something about freedom for the Free The Hikers blog.
I went to YouTube (where else?), and searched the tune to see what I could find.
The rendition stirred something in my core, and the lyrics caused me to reflect on youth, travel, adventure, love, loss, life, and what it means to be free.
Almost a year ago, Josh, Shane and Sarah, three Americans in their late 20s, unintentionally strayed across a border.
Since then, they’ve been interred in Evin prison by the Government of Iran, just as many equally-innocent Iranians are held, tortured, and often executed at the whim of a cruel regime that seems bent on suppressing the will of its own people.
The supreme irony of the plight of these three young hikers is that they had been on a mission of mercy – they volunteered to help refugees, the poor, and those less privileged than themselves to achieve freedom from want, persecution, and insecurity.
Now they themselves are entrapped, detained, and confined. So what of their own freedom?
A short time before Josh, Shane and Sarah went on their ill-fated hike, I blogged about the death of Neda Agha Soltan in a street in Tehran. I wrote:
The image of her blood-covered face, that of a fallen angel, will be embedded in the minds of thousands, maybe even millions, who will bear witness to her oh-so-public passing when they watch it on the Internet.
I wonder how she felt about freedom, this one young woman who died in a Tehran street? Whatever her views were, it’s unlikely that she would have known when she awoke yesterday that her destiny was to become immortal in the name of it.
One young woman went into the street in Tehran on a June morning, maybe to go to the shop, or to her music lesson; maybe to fight for her country, her beliefs, and her values.
If she was demonstrating for freedom, in a twisted way, she got what she wanted, but surely not in the way she might have imagined. Whatever her intention, she’s become a martyr of sorts, an unexpected icon, a symbol for all that needs changing in a world from which she is now forever free.
It strikes me that, like Neda, Josh, Shane and Sarah are caught up in something much bigger than themselves.
As for freedom, I believe it has more to do with the heart, mind and soul, than walls, boxes and iron bars. We all have prisons from which we wish to escape. Some are physical, some emotional, others mental.
I have complete faith that Josh, Shane and Sarah will one day be physically free. In the meantime, I pray for the freedom of their minds and spirits.
I hope they won’t allow their current adverse circumstances to crush their freedom to choose love, compassion and peace over bitterness, hatred and despair. I hope they will be steadfast in their intent to make the world a better place.
They, like us, have nothing left to lose….
Me & Bobby McGee Lyrics by Kris Kristofferson