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To Whom Do We Owe Our Freedom and To Whom Do We Not?


“For it has been said so truthfully that it is the soldier, not the reporter, who has given us

the freedom of the press.   It is the soldier, not the poet, who has given us freedom of

speech. It is the soldier, not the agitator, who has given us the freedom to protest.”


––Zel Miller from a speech given at the Republican Convention, Sept 1, 2004


Certainly not to kiss-ass politicians

Kissing hands and asses for favors or money,

Connection and influence, jockeying for position,

Slaughtering each other at daytime

And drinking Champaign together at night

But of course to those who lay their lives & wealth

on the line for people

Presidents like Abe Lincoln, Prime Ministers like Dr. Mossaddeq


Not to pompous religious leaders

Whose god resides in a large building or on a gilded throne

Hooded or un-hooded, robed or unrobed,

Allowing people to kiss their hands,

to serve them out of fear of hell and damnation

the fear that has been instilled and fanned in their minds;

and yes to those religious angels and saints who work out of a pure heart

To serve people, many of whom are unknown

But Holy Mothers such as Mother Theresa

Represents them well


And not to proud and vain kings who drove their armies

Thousands of miles from home to prove their abundant testosterone

Or its lack, to prove that they are addicted to power, addicted

To war and killing, and yet to those few kings in the history

That showed mercy and generosity and considered

Their crown bestowed to them by their subjects


Certainly not to cruel & wealthy aristocrats

For if it were up to them we would only have two classes forever--

Master and slave, but to thoughtful and generous aristocrats

Who knew that they will never be remembered unless through their 

Generous deeds and their humble acts of sharing their wealth with the poor


Not to the global bankers / war mongers

Who create “international incidents”, manipulate “irreconcilable differences”

Between countries and fuel the wars of genocide as part of their business as usual,

Finance the likes of Hitler and his war machine

The likes of Saddam Hussein and his torture chambers

The likes of Taliban and their imprisoned society

The likes of the Bush regime, who want to devour and control the world through war and

supremacy, killing millions of people from all sides


We owe our freedom to the kindness of mothers

Their love, the sweetness in their milk, their warm soft bosom

For we learn there from early on the meaning of love and security

as the essence of freedom


We owe our freedom to loving fathers

Who teach us through love and care how to hunt and gather wood,

How to provide and give, as that is also the true meaning

Of freedom


We owe our freedom to the farm workers

Working in the heat of summer, tilling land on their tractors

Or harvesting in their combines

Providing food to nourish people so they can carry on with their lives as they wish


We owe it to the workers who went on strike in Chicago in 1888

Demanding 8 hours pay for 8 hours work

Or else employers would still make us work long hours and ask us to be grateful


We owe our freedom to the coal miners

Who day in and day out shovel coal from the belly of the mountain

While the rest of us sit at our desks writing about freedom


We owe our freedom to the postal workers of the world

Who keep stamping, carrying and delivering all our mail to nearly every place on earth


We owe it to the truck drivers,

Traveling long distances, often alone, on ice and treacherous roads


And we owe it to teachers

who educate our young and old,

teach them to read and understand our history and our struggle for change toward a more

just society.  Yes, to the teachers from elementary to college,

working for petty wages but for long hours,

instilling knowledge and know-how.


We owe our freedom to the maids and servants, chauffeurs,

conductors and cooks, waiters and attendants,

Who toil, work and sweat giving service, comfort and liberty to the rest of us.


We owe our freedom to the philosophers

who elaborated on the notion of freedom and democracy,

For the nation and for the individual, who showed us how much

Room there is for out thoughts and ideas to become free

And our lives to reflect this freedom.


We owe it to the countless scientists whose tireless work

led to the discovery of electricity,

Vaccines for incurable diseases

Machines and locomotives that liberated us

from the primitive means of living and traveling.


We owe it to good Physicians who truly care for their patients

And offer them healing and liberation from disease and discomfort


We owe our freedom to the builders of machines, planes, trains and automobiles,

For if it were not for them, we could not travel freely across the continents


We owe our freedom to grocery workers, cashiers, clerks, butchers and bakers

Preparing all our food for purchase


We owe our freedom to all those who work in the basements of America,

cooking, washing, and ironing


All those sewing, mending, welding, pumping, assembling on lines in the factories

For each one’s work contributes to the freedom of others and enables others to be free

using products that enrich their lives


We owe our freedom to our spiritual teachers

Who show the path to tolerance to opposing views, peace and justice for all

Who bring food to the needy, shelter to the homeless and jobs for the unemployed, relief

to the addicts.


We owe our freedom to the fire fighters, emergency workers, and soldiers

Who come to the aide of the needy in dire straits

From fire, flood and earthquakes.

Who bring immediate relief, who sacrifice their noble lives to save people they have

never seen


We owe our freedom to artists, musicians, poets and writers,

Whose imaginations create a new world for us

And a new freedom


We owe our freedom to true judges and lawyers,

To exceptional athletes.


Freedom is the most loaded word in the world

And all the people in the world from the child to the aged

Can have a part in creating and maintaining it



[Originally published in NHS 2006, http://www.poetspath.com/napalm/nhs06/Zarrin.htm.]