Freedom's just another word…


J. D. Pendry


...for nothin' left to lose.  And nothin' ain't worth nothin' but it's free.  Do you recognize that verse from Kris Kristofferson's song, Me and Bobby McGee?  I first heard it in Roger Miller’s country twang.  After that, I heard a foot stomping Janis Joplin rendition.  Good lyrics paint a picture.


Busted flat in Baton Rouge, waitin' for a train
And I's feelin' near as faded as my jeans
Bobby thumbed a diesel down just before it rained
It rode us all the way into New Orleans
I pulled my harpoon out of my dirty red bandana
I's playin' soft while Bobby sang the blues, yeah
Windshield wipers slappin' time, I's holdin' Bobby's hand in mine
We sang every song that driver knew, yeah,

Writers compose lyrics like these because they’ve seen it, lived it, felt it.  That’s how they’re able to share the picture.  Images tell, they stir emotion, and live long after the words fade.  Can’t you see the diesel car pulling away from the roadside, stacks belching out smoke after picking up hitchhikers possessing little more than their freedom - hear the blues harmonica, the rain spattering on the windshield and the windshield wipers slappin’ time?  And nothin’ ain’t worth nothin’ but it’s free.


I listened to a "this day in history" radio spot about the Ayatollah Khomeini’s return to Iran following the overthrow of the Shah.  I remembered those television news scenes of jubilant crowds.  Adding to my mental image was the words of ABC’s Peter Jennings.  He sounded like an excited sports commentator describing the action.  Peter was a one-man cheering section for the rebirth of Islamic Fascism.  He was in Iraq for the recent elections.  Although I listen daily to an ABC radio affiliate, I never heard from him the same exhilaration about Iraqi’s celebrating their freedom.  His and other reports I heard were somber.  Another soldier died, another homicide bomber struck.  There were no pleasing scenes or talk of freedom.  There were no verbal pictures painted of the happy, dancing Iraqis.  There were no verbal pictures drawn about the freedom and liberty that may mean the death of Islamic Fascism.


Great men understand that freedom and liberty are a powerful force.  They express it with words and vision that move nations and people.  Standing at the Brandenburg Gate before the Berlin wall, President Ronald Reagan said, “General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization: Come here to this gate!  Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate!  Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”  Soon after, the wall and the Soviet Union came down and millions owned their liberty and freedom.  President George W. Bush said, “All who live in tyranny and hopelessness can know: the United States will not ignore your oppression, or excuse your oppressors.  When you stand for your liberty, we will stand with you.”  President Bush sent a powerful message to those who seek freedom and to those who oppose it – make a choice.


Freedom is a weapon of mass destruction for tyranny, oppression and terror.  Free people, able to choose their way and their leaders, won’t tolerate either.  The terrorists know it; the Islamic Fascists know it and the Iraqi people showed the world that they know it also.  Some are saying we shouldn’t over-hype this exercise of freedom.  They’re also saying the elections are not legitimate because the people who are trying to kill others and prevent their freedom chose not to vote.  That kind of thinking is beyond my level of comprehension, but I’m just a hillbilly.  Those who didn’t vote made their choice.


Powerful images and powerful words endure:  A grateful Iraqi woman embracing the mother of a United States Marine who sacrificed his life so that she might be free.  Children freed from a prison contrasts with smiling children in a bullet -scarred schoolhouse that once stored weapons.  A brutal strongman contrasts with a feeble, bedraggled tyrant dragged from a rat’s hole.  Mass graves, oppressed, brutalized and frightened people contrast sharply with jubilant, cheering, dancing people proudly pointing ink stained fingers toward the heavens.  On January 30, 2005, the world saw a picture of freedom, an image that will endure.


Freedom's just another word for nothin' left to lose, but when freedom is gone, there is nothing left to lose.


Psalm 119:45




Read Paul Schneidmill's Weekly Devotional


J.D. Pendry is author of The Three Meter Zone, Random House/Ballantine.

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