Some Lessons in Freedom

What does it mean to be free?

Freedom From Prison

I often think of my friend, Sam, an ex-Attica inmate, whom I met at an AA meeting many years ago. Freedom, for Sam, was very identifiable. When released from prison, institutional confinement was history for him. He could now do whatever he wanted.

He was free.

On the other hand, at 52, he entered a kind of free-fall world with no job skills and lost time, which he could have used to build some seniority and benefits in a manufacturing job.

Nevertheless, technically, he was still free. Continue reading


Individualism, The Dream Realized

Let’s just imagine a group of Americans who have chosen to create and follow their own individual paths of self-fulfillment by separating themselves from traditional careers, institutionalized churches, political parties, and the American obsession with consumption.

Continuing on this narrative, imagine this group forming a very viable sub-culture of renters, musicians, writers, part-timers, sweat-lodge devotees, meditators, campers, vegetarians, used-car owners, and consignment-store buyers. Continue reading


Filthy Lucre

This blog-post is a kind of no-brainer. It is about money. But it is also about all the things that many of us encounter in our relationship with money: financial insecurity, freedom, autonomy, gratification, ownership, deferring payments, borrowing, owing anonymous institutions—unless we’re out on the street, we, in America, are all in on it

Money, it was once said, is the root of all evil. “Filthy lucre,” the medievalists called it. On the other hand, I was reminded many times in my youth that “money doesn’t grow on trees.” That was a statement that usually came out of the mouths of parents to remind their kids to give up even thinking about another handout from good ol’ mom and dad.

I think I first became aware of money when I was a Catholic elementary school student. “Second collections” were part of the Sunday-service ritual. I learned from that ritual that there were “needy causes” out there (usually in the Catholic Missions or in the Catholic Charities movement), that, no matter how poor my own church was, there was always some pocket change we could come up with to send to those we just assumed were more in need. Continue reading