Dixie Peach: Die Gedanken sind frei

Cooler than the other side of the pillow.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Die Gedanken sind frei

Die Gedanken sind frei, wer kann sie erraten,
Sie fliehen vorbei, wie nächtliche Schatten.
Kein Mensch kann sie wissen, kein Jäger erschießen,
mit Pulver und Blei: die Gedanken sind frei.

(The thoughts are free, who can guess them?
they fly around like shadows in the night
Nobody can know them, no hunter can shoot them
with powder and lead, the thoughts are free)

Ich denke, was ich will, und was mich beglücket.
Doch alles in der Still und wie es sich schicket.
Mein Wunsch und Begehren kann niemand verwehren.
Es bleibt dabei: die Gedanken sind frei.

(I think what I want, what makes me happy
what is peaceful and what the future will bring
my wishes and desires no one can deny
it stays always, the thoughts are free.)

Und sperrt man mich ein im finsteren Kerker,
das alles sind rein vergebliche Werke.
Denn meine Gedanken zerreißen die Schranken
und Mauern entzwei. die Gedanken sind frei.

(Even if you lock me up in the darkest prison
and this would be useless
because my thoughts would break every barrier
and wall in two, the thoughts are free.)

Drum will ich auf immer den Sorgen absagen,
Und will mich auch nimmer mit Grillen mehr plagen.
Man kann ja im Herzen stets lachen und scherzen
Und denken dabei: die Gedanken sind frei.

(For this I refuse all my worries
and I don't want to torture myself with heavy burdens
you still can deep in your heart laugh and smile
and keep thinking the thoughts are free).

This is an old German song called Die Gedanken sind frei and I tried to translate to give at least the sense of the words if not the exact translation. Sorry I couldn't make it rhyme in English. I only recenly discovered this song as it's being currently used in a TV commercial for a email service. The song haunted me from the first time I heard it and I looked it up to see the word to the whole song and find out in general more about it.

B thought the song was around 75 or 100 years old but I found that the song comes from the early 18th century and the original inspiration for it came from a 12th century minstrel song. Think about it. The 12th century. In 1100-something-or-other people were singing about the idea that our thoughts are free. That they are unlimited. That they can't be trapped or caged or walled in. That we need to smile and remember that our thoughts are free. Nine-hundred years ago someone somewhere was trying to remind people that our thoughts are free.

So why in this age of enlightenment and split second communications and ability to speak instantly with people on the other side of the planet are people denying themselves and others free thought? Why are we letting people inhibit our thoughts and expressions?

Why are we letting corporations tell us what to think about the world around us and how we need to treat each other and what we need to own to be happy and fulfilled? Why are we letting men of religion tell us what to think about God and salvation and our relationship to Him instead of thinking about what God Himself wants? Why are we letting world leaders tell us how we should view others on this planet? Why do we have our beliefs and thoughts and opinions and let others cow us into being silent because our beliefs and thoughts and opinions don't coincide with theirs?

And why do we cow others who don't think in the same way we do? We stifle them and tell them that they offend us or they offend others or their opinions make us unsafe or they jeopardize our salvation or they cause us to lose money. Our thoughts become narrower and more rigidly defined and anything that strays from that isn't cherished or encouraged. Instead we try to silence them. Not legally. No, we like to whip out phrases like "freedom of speech" because we like it when it works to our advantage but we silence people on other ways. We threaten them with losing their physical freedom. We intimidate them by making them social outcasts. We point fingers at them and tell them they're damned for eternity. We take away their economic freedom and tell them they're not good citizens or Christians or friends or humans. We shame people for their thoughts and end up squashing out any spark of free thought or creativitiy. We don't trust one another enough to realize that just because a thought or opinion doesn't agree with our own that the one in opposition isn't some sort of menace to us.

We don't have to be threatened by the free thinking of others and we don't need to be afraid of our own free thinking. We don't have to be in lockstep with the rest of the world to be happy and to be good people. We can have our own opinions and be proud of them.

I know what I believe to be good or bad and I know not to follow after bad. When I hear an opinion that I find to be objectionable or dangerous I know to turn away from it. And when I hear from others something that threatens the innocent then I know to reject it and do what I can to stop the innocent from being hurt (you listening to me, Osama bin Laden?). But I don't have to doubt my own self and my thoughts just because someone else doesn't understand them or agree with them and I don't have to reject those people because we're in disagreement. Sometimes you have to (still listening, Osama bin Laden?) but many times you don't.

If we intimidate the free thoughts of others then we're going to miss out on some ideas that could save us. We have to trust ourselves and others a lot more.

Die Gedanken sind frei.


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