Finally, I thought, reading the bold headline in the morning paper. After all, I had been searching for serious and meaningful freedom, what with the word’s abundant use in an election year and considering the armed standoff in Oregon. From the tenor of the headline it appeared I had been looking in the wrong place. What I understood to be freedom, definition-wise, as the lack of causal pressures on one’s ability to formulate a decision, actually just boiled down to the ability to not piss one’s pants. Silly me.

The male species has long prided itself on being able to take a leak anywhere, and has never been bashful about exercising the “freedom” that this biological expediency allows.  Sporting matches, alleyways, parking lots, balconies, open windows, empty bottles for the steady-handed, the wheels of police cars and the walls of precincts for the thrill seekers, subways and elevators for the bladder-bursters–it is one of the lucky conveniences of the gender. 

“You guys can just go anywhere!” women condemn all the time. I’ve heard it all my life, even from the more brazen ladies who will relieve themselves just about any place a man will, which is impressive, considering the built-in complexities of stance and positioning. There is still a very real sense of god’s discrimination, given that men can stand tall while women must adopt a kind of supplicating, balled-up posture. Which even I must admit seems a bit unfair, but, not being the maker of the rules, I just shrug and get by best I can. 

I’m getting away from myself here. Freedom is a funny word, subject to irresponsible and haphazard use. Some people think it is a substitute for “I can do whatever I want, when I want.” Some people think it is a catchy song by George Michael. A novel by Jonathan Franzen. Others think it is “just another word for nothing left to lose,” as Kris Kristofferson penned for Janis Joplin in the song, “Me and Bobby Mcgee.” Which is actually terrifying. That type of “freedom,” nothing left to lose, will drive people to do desperate and strange things, in the style of that kid from Australia last week who was arrested after planning to stuff a live kangaroo with explosives and send it bouncing into a crowd on Anzac Day, which is the Australian Veteran’s Day. I give the nutty kid credit for imagination, even though I’m not sure how much explosives would fit into the pouch of a kangaroo. After all, it’s not like the trunk of a car. And, who knows where the kangaroo would’ve eventually hopped off to. Kangaroos are notoriously bad at indoctrination. Even the most hypocritical ones don’t particularly care about religious fanaticism. They rarely sign up for jihad and the females will simply tear off their burkas and chew on them. They are good boxers, but even in this pugilistic sense they don’t seem to care about who they beat up. They are in it for the sport, and a good cross-hook is a good cross-hook, no matter what. If he had actually gone through with blowing up a kangaroo in the middle of a parade the whole messy fiasco would’ve probably resulted in nothing more than a charge of animal cruelty and some serious dry cleaning bills.

Back to freedom. In the modern world most everyone is beset by causal necessity, which is, definition-wise, the very opposite of freedom. People are hitched to their debts and responsibilities the way marionette puppets are hitched to some drunken puppeteers dancing hand. Between work pressure, relationships, personal expectations, financial issues and children, freedom may just be a fun daydream that occurs while a person is being tugged at from five different directions.  Even a politician wielding the word will fall short of somehow clearing a hopeful voter’s $30,000 debt, oppressive boss, needy children and indolent spouse. Here the kangaroos again have the advantage. A kangaroo has never gone bankrupt, been forced into debt servitude, or been made to feel less of a kangaroo through a variety of insidious social pressures. They can micturate wherever they want, and rarely go to jail for it. Even the very real threat of being packed with explosives by some wacky acne-faced Aussie teenager seems to have had little impact on general morale. They are as free as the word may suggest, and would probably not trade places with us for all the rotten lettuce in California.

Which may be the future, after all. Draft the kangaroos. It’s not fair that a creature lower than us on the food scale should be freer than ourselves. Like I said they are bad ass when it comes to fighting. Let’s use it to our advantage. They can train alongside Navy Seals, animal puns aside, and when they are united and focused they can be sent to places like the Malheur (which I think is French for misfortune, funny enough) Wildlife Refuge to take back lands that the anarchists have seized. The armed men will be mystified and amused, at first, watching as a line of cute, furry kangaroos come bounding out of the horizon. By the time the occupiers realize what is going on, they will be engaged in close combat with determined and trained marsupials. Their long-range automatic weapons will be useless at that point and they will be forced to duke it out. Afterwards, with black eyes and bloody noses, they may be willing to engage in saner means of land appropriation. 

When Duke Ellington won the presidential medal of freedom from Nixon in 69’ he defined, in his acceptance speech, four freedoms… “Freedom from hate, unconditionally; freedom from self-pity; freedom from the fear of possibly doing something that may help someone else more than it would yourself; and freedom from the kind of pride that would make a man feel he is better than his brother.”

Viva Le Duke

More Alembics to come 

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