The greatest enemy of individual freedom is the individual himself.

– Saul Alinsky

Birds Are Meant To Fly

Just the other day I was reading about a Hassid mystic, Zusia. He is one of the most beautiful Hassid mystics.

He was going into the hills, and he saw many birds, caught by a man, in a cage. Zusia opened the cage — because birds are meant to fly — and all the birds flew away.

And the main man came rushing out of his house and he said ‘What have you done?’

And Zusia said ‘Birds are meant to fly. Look how beautiful they look on the wing!’

But the man thought otherwise; he gave Zusia a good beating. His whole day’s work had been destroyed, and he had been hoping to go to the market and sell the birds, and there were many many things to be done — and now Zusia had destroyed the whole thing.

He gave him a really good beating, but Zusia was laughing, and Zusia was enjoying — and he was beating him! Then he thought this man must be mad.

And Zusia started moving. When the man had finished, Zusia asked ‘Have you done it, or would you like to do a little more? Are you finished? Because now I have to go.’ The man could not answer. What to answer? This man was simply mad! And Zusia started singing a song. He was very happy — happy that the birds were flying in the sky and happy that he was beaten and yet it didn’t hurt, happy that he could receive it as a gift, happy that he could still thank God. There was no complaint.

Now, he had transformed the whole quality of the situation.

This has to be learned. Slowly slowly a man has to become so wide that all is accepted, yes, even death, only then the song bursts forth. Yes, even the darkness, only then the light arrives. The moment you have accepted the night totally and there is no seeking and hankering for the morning, the morning has come. This is how it comes, this is the way of its coming.

We do need to think about how we have security – everyone has a right to that – but we also need to think about how we maintain civil rights and personal freedom.

– Tracy Chapman


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