None of Us Are Free



"Fellow-citizens; above your national, tumultuous joy, I hear the mournful wail of millions! whose chains, heavy and grievous yesterday, are, to-day, rendered more intolerable by the jubilee shouts that reach them. If I do forget, if I do not faithfully remember those bleeding children of sorrow this day, “may my right hand forget her cunning, and may my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth!” To forget them, to pass lightly over their wrongs, and to chime in with the popular theme, would be treason most scandalous and shocking, and would make me a reproach before God and the world."

Frederick Douglass spoke those words, and many more, in July of 1852. I recommend you read them. I do so every year. Or listen to Baratunde Thurston reciting Douglass's words.

The mournful wailing of millions is still with us. Men languish, driven steadily out of their minds in long term solitary confinement, a practice known to be torture. Some live there for as long as ten years.

Children are chained in factories, making cheap clothing and toys. Many hunger, and lose their homes while the wealthy few live distant from this pain. Land, animals, air and waterways are sacrificed on the altars of greed. Sacrificed, yet not thought sacred.

If we are to be a great people, a noble people, a compassionate people, we must rise toward one another in love.

We must treat one another better, both upon this gorgeous continent, and across the world.

"None of us are free, if one of us is chained." - Solomon Burke


One current project of mine is studying the terrible effects of mass incarceration. I'm working with local groups on reform in our counties. Online, I am still studying with people from all over the US. Please join us in this study. If we can begin to better name and map the illness, we can find effective roads toward healing. 

2 Responses to “None of Us Are Free”

  1. Syrbal/Labrys

    Fitting post for the day. Sadly, as freedoms shrink even on the streets, not in cells? It strikes me that the shrinkage results from men and women already imprisoned in their minds in “chains” they choose to wear. And to keep themselves company, to bear their selected burdens, they wish to drape those chains on everyone in sight. Perhaps some of those behind the bars and walls are those who fought the invisible chains the hardest.

    • Thorn

      That is a profound statement, Labrys. Very powerful. Thank you.

      May we all continue to help one another toward liberation, each in our own way.


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