FREEDOM

by Kim Kelly

It’s Remembrance Day again, a day for reflection on the relationship between loss and human foolishness that seems lost in the wash this year.

There’s a lot of noise filling the wide blue sky right now, belligerent flag-wavers claiming their freedom is at stake unless we allow tyrants to have their way. It all sounds like the same old unhinged, clangouring dissonance that has always led us to war. Boring. Nasty. Terrifying.

And pointless, because there’s no such thing as freedom anyway. None of us lives without obligation or responsibility, without consequences following along after our actions. We might like to think we do, but it’s never true.

This time last year, our skies were beginning to fill with smoke from bushfires that would rage into the new year, bushfires caused by climate change, fuelled by our insatiable want for mountains of stuff we don’t need – fuelled by our freedom to pillage the planet.

Here are two kangaroos I snapped on the way home from the shops last November. They seemed lost in the thick blanket of drought dust rolling in from the west, the eerie prelude to the monstrous firestorms that would follow; and they were trapped in the maze of fences out where I live. That day, I felt just like them as I followed slowly in my car. Not free, but fragile, anxious, shedding hope by the moment.

Yes, things do turn around. Yes, we do find that break in the fence, eventually, and push through to a brighter day. A return to some equilibrium, maybe. An escape from oppression. But not to freedom.

This Remembrance Day, I’m reaffirming my obligations and responsibilities: to live smaller and love larger, and to refuse to lose hope that these things make a difference. They’re the only weapons of peace we’ve ever had.