Photo by Martin Burns
Today Passover is celebrated. Passover is the Jewish holiday celebrating the Exodus of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. The bible (Old Testament) tells us that as the Israelites were preparing to escape from Egypt after 430 years, Both God and Moses took time to instruct them. This is what I wrote about this in an E-book titled Humanism, Liberalism, Education and the Bible – The Ravings of a Secular Israeli Jew:
When Moses instructs the people of Israel before their escape from Egypt, he can talk about a lot of things – about the power of God, about the land that is waiting for them, about the preparations they need to do, but in the words he chose, you already see what will later become a foundation of the Jewish belief: “And it shall come to pass, when your children shall say unto you, What mean ye by this service?” (Exodus 12, 26); “And thou shalt tell thy son in that day, saying, It is because of that which Jehovah did for me when I came forth out of Egypt” (Exodus 13, 8); “And it shall be, when thy son asketh thee in time to come, saying, What is this? that thou shalt say unto him, By strength of hand Jehovah brought us out from Egypt, from the house of bondage” (Exodus 13, 14).
The Jewish tradition holds that each and every person needs to see himself as though he was personally freed from slavery in Egypt. And at least once a year each person should celebrate and be thankful for that freedom. Thus, in the last few years, I developed a habit of thinking (and writing) about freedom at this time of the year. I am happy not be a slave and hope slavery will be forever abolished. But to be absolutely truthful, this is not the kind of freedom that I yearn for because I it is not relevant to my own everyday experience. There are, on the other hand, a number of freedoms that I feel are relevant to me and to the people around me. For my family, friends, readers and everybody else, I wish the following:
The freedom to fear – fear could be a negative and limiting emotion. It can prevent us from fulfilling our true potential. It can stop us from connecting with other people and enjoying life in the fullest possible way. It is, however, also a positive emotion, if used correctly. It connects us to reality. It can make us feel alive. It can push us forward and challenge us. We need to be free to fear without comprises. Instead of telling our children (and ourselves) not to fear we need to encourage them (and us) to fear freely. Only by standing up to our fear, confronting it, poking it, understanding it and facing it we can overcome it and use it for our own good. Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather acting despite of fear.
The freedom to fail – failure is what makes us human. Literally. If DNA was copied perfectly every time we would not have evolution which is based on errors. All successes are a result of multiple failures. If we embrace failure and focus on learning from it instead of avoiding it, we can actually reach higher personal and societal achievements. Failure will come. Shouldn’t we at least greet it warmly?
The freedom from perfect – continuing the last two points, perfect is an evil overlord. Yes, excellence is a worthwhile goal. Excellence however is not reached by being perfect every time but by showing up and giving our best again and again. In many instance, perseverance is better equipped to serve us in the long run than absolute performance every single time. Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. We should be free to say: “this is good enough!”
The freedom to be unique – we are – each and every one of us – special. People are social animals and many of own instincts push us towards conformity. It is sometimes a helpful process. But conformity doesn’t have to mean mediocrity. We should be free to choose, show, and flaunt our own uniqueness as human beings. They say every finger-print is unique and one of a kind. I say – every human-print is unique and one of a kind. Why should we give it up?
Freedom to be happy – finally, and for me most importantly, I wish for the freedom to be happy. As science reveals more and more about happiness we understand that not only happiness is something that happens naturally, we understand how much societies, cultures and norms are built-in ways that prevent us from being happy. Happiness is choice. Not an easy one. If it was easy it wouldn’t be worth the effort. But it is a choice. We should all be free to pursue it. Do you?