The Responsibility of Freedom
Jojo Rabbit is my newest favorite movie (some spoilers ahead)
It follows a 10-year-old boy in the Hitler Youth during the end of WWII. He lives with his mother who is hiding a Jewish girl in their attic. The kicker is that Jojo’s imaginary friend is none other than a goofy version of Adolf Hitler.
If you’re reading this, you’re one the luckiest people to ever live in the history of the world.
Many of you are likely American citizens, native English speakers, and have access to the labor market of the most wealthy country in the world.
If we’re going to talk about privilege, let’s use the word seriously.
Think of your life & the amazing blessing it is. There are a billion people who would swap places with you today in a heartbeat. There’s probably a billion more who would pay handsomely to do so.
Somehow you and I were given the luckiest, most opportunistic, and amazing lives in the *entire history of the human species.* Stop and reread that sentence! Take it in and fully soak the idea into your brain & body - not only do we exist in the first place, but given that we’re the only intelligent life we know of in the universe, we’re the luckiest beings for possibly as long as there’s been anything at all.
I don’t mean to judge or to scare, but to impress and inspire you to make the most of it. To shake us all awake from the every day monotony - to put a blinding light on the truth of what our situation really is.
Because here’s the thing - you and I - we owe it to everyone else who isn’t as lucky to do the most with what we’ve been given. It deserves to be shouted from the rooftops: *we have a responsibility to live good lives*. To make the most of this amazing blessing of freedom & prosperity.
The worst thing any of us could do would be to view our lives and positions in the world through a lens of victimhood and power. Such a paradigm sacrifices a piece of our agency in order to feel better about wherever it is that we’ve happened to end up.
This is a high bar. You might say I have high expectations for us, and you would be right.
Thankfully, in this case we can judge ourselves by our inputs. It doesn’t matter that we actually succeed here - it matters that we try. That we throw ourselves into a a cause, give ourselves to our friends, to our family, to the things and organizations and places that matter.
We must make the attempt. That is all anyone can ask. But we must do it. To ignore this responsibility is to shirk your duty as a human being.
At the end of Jojo Rabbit the war is finally over. Germany lost, but the streets are safe. Jojo goes outside with a friend - they don’t speak, but look at each other, their town, and take in the peace of their new situation.
Ever so suddenly you notice that they start moving their bodies. Tapping their feet, swaying their shoulders and heads. Pondering what to do next.
And then the music starts to rise and they begin to full-on dance. You can’t believe it works but David Bowie is singing *Heroes*, in German. And it’s perfect.
A jeep full of soldiers and a beautiful American flag passes by - the city has been liberated, and the citizens can go free.
They can finally dance again.
That final moment of the movie is the feeling of freedom - of doing what you please, for no reason other than it brings you joy. The freedom to make, and be, and create - without worry of disease, poverty, governmental upheaval, or persecution.
These are the things people fight wars over, and yet here we have them, every day of our lives.
Let us dance and make love like the free people we are. Let us be a beacon to others - an example of what it means to use the luckiest lives to their fullest. Let us inspire others to achieve what we now take for granted.
May we fully accept the responsibility of freedom, and never waste a moment of our precious and sacred lives.
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