Freedom denied to any is a tyranny of the liberated
We live in a global community with responsibilities and obligations worldwide. Most believe that the 7 billion of us humans are brothers and sisters of some kind.
While I don't believe we are a global family, I am empathetic, and I feel for the lives of other human beings. My love and caring extends beyond my own family, community, and country.
I feel a responsibility to make lives better and happier.
Do you feel this way? Do you ever think of the suffering that occurs around the world?
In examining these quotes, I took my global empathy into consideration, and I have determined that I am a tyrant. I am free, safe, healthy, and have sufficient money and food at the expense of others.
Others in the world are in bondage. That bondage takes many forms: poverty, ignorance, starvation, and slavery. The wealthy live off the work of the poor and uneducated.
I feel guilt, or maybe just an urge to help other people as much as I can. I want to extend freedom, safety, happiness, health, and wealth across the globe.
Abraham Lincoln is referring to a specific kind of slavery: African Americans at the hands of white Americans.
But his message is more general, suggesting that denying freedom to others makes us undeserving of liberty. I ask myself "in what ways do my actions deny freedom to others? How can I help?"
Freedom is relative, a spectrum. I am more free than some, and others are more free than I. Lincoln wants us to question whether our own liberty is depriving someone else of complete freedom.
Leo Tolstoy, more pointedly, refers to the wealthy living off of the poor, and the reluctance of humans get off the backs of others, setting them free.
For white Americans, there was a cost in emancipating African American slaves. Financial situations of families were destroyed, and the Civil War caused added destruction.
Freeing people comes at an expense, and tyrants are reluctant to set them free.
Tolstoy makes me question whether my life and lifestyle oppresses others, and I have to agree with him that I am willing to help in any way I can, except completely getting off the backs of others.
I am conscious of the fact that suffering exists in the world, and I can help, but I push it to the back of my mind in order to avoid guilt and anguish. I don't believe we should suffer from constant guilt, and avoiding the issue is necessary - the amount of suffering in the world would overwhelm and crush me.
My attempt to get off the backs of other people is to share, give, and help other people. I don't want to end my life with guilt for not having elevated other humans, but I don't want to live my life in constant guilt either.
The only solution is for everyone to do all they can to help one another, tapping into empathy, our highest evolved human capacity. Empathy is the solution to world problems and should be nurtured and developed.
How can one make a difference? Help one another, and make empathy contagious. We can teach young children to be in touch with their empathy for other human beings. Educate others.
We can share our health, wealth, time, and talents in an effort to lift humanity, benefiting all. We can encourage others to give and recruit them in our efforts.
Let's help each other spread kindness. We may not be able to completely remove ourselves from the backs of other people, but we can make a positive difference in many lives.
We can help make empathy viral. Join me in this grand cause.
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