Introduction to Liberation

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True wisdom comes in understanding that sometimes, you are both the prison and the key. Johnathan Jena

Jena is right. Liberation is much more complicated than we usually tell ourselves. It would be so much easier if life really was divided up neatly between the good and bad guys, between those trapped and those holding the key. There are certainly times when the fight for freedom is about calling out and challenging “those people.” But true liberation seems to rest with those who have the courage to start with themselves and notice how “me” and “them” are more entangled than it appears at first blush.

And seeing ourselves as both prison and key is only the beginning. Sometimes we are also the guard, carrying out orders we don’t like but are too afraid to challenge. And what about the many ways we are funders of the entire jail? The wise ones are right: dismantling oppressive systems begins with noticing the many ways we ourselves prop it up.

So does this mean that confession plays a bigger role in liberation than we’d like to admit? Well, yes, a bit of healthy self-confrontation seems a must. We need to push ourselves when we play the helpless victim, put on the holier-than-thou cloak of self-righteousness and hide behind those stories about having “good intentions” or “clean hands.”

Yet, as every religion worth its salt says, confession by itself leads down a dark road. It must always be paired with compassion. We’ve got to remember that as well. We’ve got to remember that we are all liberators and oppressors, victims and victimizers. It’s not just you that is prisoner, key, guard, warden and jail funder wrapped into one. It’s all of us. You, me, them. We all play all the parts. We’re all caught up in the mess, pain and tragedy of it together.

Which seems to mean we all need to be a bit more humble and a bit more kind.

Indeed, in the end, maybe those are the most important keys. Maybe that’s the way we all can make it out together.

Soul Matters Introduction


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