Originally commissioned by T-615, this piece is part of a collaboration among artists and the founders of T-615 to explore the transcendental aspects of slavery and freedom.
As I pondered the question of what Freedom actually means, I was led to thoughts of innocence, abundance, uninhibited nature, etc. But every thought ultimately came up shallow, until I ran across Viktor Frankl’s brilliant little book, Man’s Search for Meaning.
Frankl was a psychologist who endured the horrors of life in several of the worst concentration camps. The book is a summation of his observations and conclusions regarding what is truly essential for Life and survival in terms of the soul.
Having seen the worst that human cruelty has to offer, Frankl concluded that,
Freedom in the external sense is unbelievably precarious: health, family, love, security, and physical, civil and religious liberty can be snatched from our grasp in an instant. But Frankl’s voice rings true in that the most essential of the freedoms: that of the inward man, can never be lost.
So Freedom is a brilliant paradox of extreme fragility, and absolute security. My external freedom can flee, but my internal freedom is guaranteed.
The drawing portrays this strange contrast. The hands shield a flame, noble and beautiful, inspiring. Real freedom is divine, like Love, Beauty, Joy, Awe, Play, etc. It really can’t be created, controlled, or even defined. It can simply be recognized and enjoyed. Freedom is a muse, it leads us to action, it ignites and warms. Fire is powerful, consuming, life giving and also destructive in the wrong setting. Freedom can be much the same. Fire and external freedom share the trait that they require certain circumstances for flourishing. Thus, the hands shield the flame gently, not so tightly as to crush it, but to reverently protect it.
The neo-Classical border gives the appearance of unassailable strength and stability. This is the other side of the paradox: the piece that says, “no one can take my freedom to choose my response, how I will feel, how I will wield my attitude, my energy, and my focus”
For many years I have suspected that no matter how bad the external suffering of my life became, I could always choose to find internal refuge in the comfort of God. And Frankl’s voice gave me confirmation.
Below, you’ll find the video of T-615’s collaboration. To purchase a shirt bearing this image, visit T-615’s store. A portion of the proceeds go to the recovery of victims of human trafficking