by Joe Shea
American Reporter Editor-in-Chief
For quite a while now, I have had something of a special gift. While it has a variety of manifestations, there it one way that it makes itself known that is very powerful. When my gift makes itself felt in this way it grabs my attention and will not let it go for weeks and even months at a time, until it is fulfilled. And then, usually, it is too late.
Having learned a little about people's tolerance for this kind of thing, I will not offer a dozen stories and anecdotes as I'm usually inclined to do. I wlll just tell you what is happening now and how my own inner intelligence network is responding.
And, you see, it is very much a signal. It is a quiet, clear beat of my inner being that speaks a single word at any time it wants, perhaps once every few days or every few weeks, over and over again until I learn what it was trying to signal me about.
For months now, the single word that has beaten out from the drum of my being is "Freedom."
I have given it as much though as I could. The very first time I heard it, perhaps back in April or March, I thought it might be a reference to what my all-or-nothing investment in an offshore oil company could create for me. Just Saturday we heard from a trade journal that the company has a buy-out offer on the table, and today, as I was driving south through Sarasota on U.S. Hwy. 41, the Tamiami Trail, I heard the word beat again: "Freedom," it said, and no more.
It is as though inside me a tiny seed has momentarily burst open and released the fruit of knowledge acquired from the force of life itself. In the past it warned me of explosions and earthquakes and things it is better not to mention here. Rarely has it addressed any aspect of my financial circumstances, or anything that is particularly personal; it is almost always about the world, not me.
Should anyone have the patience, I explained the origins of this seed in a long, long piece for the Village Voice called "The Life of Ivan Illich," way back in August 1970, when most of New York was in the Hamptons, and in a telex message to the editors of the Times-Herald Record back on Dec. 24, 1969.
They promptly decided I was going nuts; I wasn't; I was going to a monastery called Christ in the Desert to find out what was in that seed. I gave my copy of the telex to my former acting teacher, Clay Stevenson, the dance director at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, because he asked me for it. I imagine the editors tossed theirs in the trash. I found what was in the seed; today it is the word "Freedom," and it is still mostly a mystery.
Here are the possibilities, from the most probable to the least probable (and I warn you, when I start guessing, I am never very good at it):
First, we have a mission in space that is the hope of humanity, and it is the International Space Station called "Freedom." That Freedom has always been in a crisis mode; recently, when one of the space shuttles was destroyed, the nations that participate in the maintenance of Freedom were unable to resupply it for six months. The shuttle disaster has delayed new missions, as well, and the maintenance schedule at the station has probably deteriorated as a result.
The death of Freedom is not something that would materially affect day-to-day events on Earth, but it might be a very telling blow to the future of humanity in Space, and that would be a true disaster.
Conceivably, the death of Freedom in Space might also have a certain demoralizing effect on those who struggle in the war that our country is currently waging in the name of the freedom that is also known as liberty, but which is apparently a very speculative affair. Saddam Hussein presumably sought the freedom to be and act as he might wish, and achieved it until we took it away from him in the name of our favored kind of freedom, which presumably is to allow everyone to be and act as they wish until they endanger others.
Yet some of the world's great religions wage war against our American kind of freedom, too, including some large blocks of very well-organized political and religious organizations here in the United States. They say that freedom means, variously, a dearth of regulation concerning such things as environmental pollution, securities transactions, corporate governance, usury, taxation, auto safety, health care and pharmaceutical products, or conversely, that freedom means regulating what people are allowed to see and read and hear, whether in books, on television or the radio, in movies and the Internet, in local schools and great universities, and also where, what and when they are allowed to drink and smoke. In large part, this collective body of opinion-holders advocate for both kinds of freedom and are the same people but are perhaps not so inclined to spend time with each other except on Election Day.
Then there are those who advocate freedom of a different kind. They see corporations not as persons, as the law does, but as necessary evils that must be regulated to preserve the freedom of the ordinary and trustful citizens they would otherwise prey upon by filling their air with chemical poisons and dirt, destroying their national forests for lumber, selling dangerous drugs as safe, charging fanciful interest and late-payment fees, cheating unsuspecting investors of their nest eggs, and bankrupting their public schools and hospitals by reducing the taxes great corporations pay, if any. Conversely, this group of opinion-holders also believes no one should tell them what to wear, or suggest what they may see or say on television or hear or say on the radio or the Internet, or in the movies, slight them on the basis of their gender, race or religon, or interfere in any way in non-criminal or violent things that take place in the privacy of their homes. And although these people, too, sometimes do not feel comfortable with one another, they also tend to show up and vote the same way on Election Day.
Currently, these two large groups of people are not getting along well at all, and both see their visions of freedom as endangered. Sociologists and political scientists describe what they see as "polarization," while dramatists on both sides see it as "tearing this country apart." Every day this deep division is the subject of hundreds if not thousands of newspaper articles, radio and television interviews and Internet opining, and most of that is advocacy for one group or the other.
So you can see that when I consider "Freedom," I take on a very large and complex topic with many shades of meaning, some of them simple and some of them dauntingly complex. And all I have to rely on is a single beat of a drum that beats but a single word. For me, the task of sorting out the meaning of the signal is a winner-take-all competition for the truth. Should I fail, say, and the Freedom space station explodes because no one was alerted by me to some hidden danger there, I would be personally responsible, would I not?
And if, when President George W. Bush appoints a new Associate Justice of the Supreme Court soon to replace the great centrist, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, he is about to appoint someone who will take the fre3em of one side and deny the freedom of the other, and one large bloc of freedom dies, I would also be to blame. If you have been so foolish as to have read this far and to have observed this quandary, you, too, shall share my guilt, because you also knew that freedom is endangered and you did not save it. Every American child is reared to love freedom, and instilled with the desire to fight for and preserve it, and you are probably one who is then obligated by the knowledge that our freedom is in danger to act accordingly. Failure, as someone before me famously said, is not an option.
I cannot tell you with certainty whose freedom, or which Freedom - there is also a Scientology magazine by that name - is endangered. You are free to look and choose for yourself what freedom and whose freedom is in trouble. I can only tell you what I hear in the strong, quiet beat of my heart.