This Freedom Hurts

I come from Iran, a country of broken rules, arbitrary confinements. A country where the thought police prowl the streets, thought police, like Orwell’s 1984. A country where religious guards break into homes and demand answers to the most private matters, questions like, What is your relation to this man? What is your relation to this woman? Are you married? A country of unsolicited interrogations. A country unfair to women, unfair to men, unfair to the youth. A country of crushed dreams, where life happens in secret, underground parties and illegal drugs, illegal kisses, illegal sex. A country of forbidden lust. Where adulterers and homosexuals are stoned to death. A country where women are not allowed to sing.
But I came to this country 15 years ago and I heard grandiose stories of freedom, unlimited, infinite freedom, freedom of speech, freedom to choose how I am governed, freedom to voice my opinion. Freedom to do this, without fear, to write without censorship, freedom to sing.
I am grateful but…
This freedom is not as I imagined. This freedom is racist and sexist. This freedom is homophobic and Islamophobic. This freedom is inequality. This freedom has a class system. This freedom gives guns to kids. This freedom is mass shootings and tragedies, teaching boys how to kill, teaching boys how to disrespect women. This freedom demands a woman’s smile. This freedom bullies. This freedom suppresses a man’s tears. This freedom says, “You’re not man enough.” This freedom taunts, and prescribes prescription and illegal drugs and guns for protection, and self-defense and depression and domestic abuse.
This freedom is tainted. This freedom kills. This freedom kills unarmed youth because of the color of their skin. This freedom decides it is okay to let a man go free after he takes another’s breath away. This freedom arrests the voices of disappointment, of anger, fear, pain. This freedom is corrupt. This freedom reminds me of the very place I left.
This freedom breaks my heart. What do we do with this freedom? Tell me. What do we do?

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