A Letter to Voltaire


July 2, 2018

Dearest Monsieur Voltaire:

Your words ring true, however the concept of freedom as you suggest, is much more easily said than done.

You lived to the very respectful age of 84 (in your times 17-18th centuries, that was a significant accomplishment in itself). I am curious as to when you actually wrote “Man is free at the moment he wishes to be.”…How old were you?

Your life as we now know it contained extraordinary highs and some low, low, lows. When was it that you thought about freedom? Was it in the best of times or in the worst of times?

Freedom now, I am conjecturing, has a different meaning than in your day. Although I will admit some of the tenets still hold true, especially the one that got you in so much trouble: Freedom of speech.

Freedom, as you say is personal. You are the one who can really define what freedom is for you…and freedom means different things at different times. A child seeks freedom by not holding his mother’s hand, a teenager seeks freedom by going against their families traditions or wishes, a young adult seeks freedom by choosing their career and their mate, and as a full adult we choose where we live, if we have children and how many, how long we work and where… so freedom to make decisions is with us through our entire lives.

Of course, until it isn’t. If you are born at a time and place where you don’t have freedom to peacefully hold your mother’s hand, to rebel against your parents and still be loved, to be a young adult and have the ability to create a future, and to be and adult to protect what you hold dear. If your society doesn’t allow for these things, freedom becomes survival.

Freedom comes to us because we must demand it. We must demand it of ourselves and of our society, our family, and our government. Freedom is hard, it takes discipline, clear thinking, action, forgiveness, compassion, and it does not rest.

So Monsieur Voltaire, vive la Liberté!