I’m sitting here with my wife tonight watching old movies. She loves old movies and I think I know why. Old movies are familiar. They tell stories that we love—or loathe. But those stories are a part of who we are because we’ve grown up with them. So, maybe my wife likes old movies for the same reasons I like to reread old stories—they remind us of all the memories we’ve associated with them.
And it’s really the memories that are most important. Each of us is a collection of the memories we’ve made. Most memories we like to hang onto have shaped us into who we are today. As we make new memories, we will add them to the collection and set aside some from the past.
Within that context, I have been thinking about my memories of our great country. I think about the country, as it was, when I was a child. No doubt, I’ve romanticized it in my memories. No doubt, I was unaware as a child in the ways I am aware as a grown man. At the same time, I can’t help but feel sadness for the world we are passing to our children.
This world feels less free, and less concerned about ensuring freedom to its inhabitants. This disappoints me because many of my fondest memories were from lessons learned through mistakes. If we remove all possibility of mistakes and error, we remove the ability to grow from experience. This would deny our children one of the greatest tools they should have at their disposal to teach them about life.
And I think about how this connects to my story; or how it connects to the country we are leaving our children. In each instance, I can’t help but wonder if we wouldn’t be happier to take back our freedom from those who would protect us in the name of public safety. I wrote about a world where public safety took center stage. We are witnessing the same dystopian reality across our country every day—and I’m not referring to the pandemic. It’s more about the news we’re allowed to consume or the legislation that is proposed to keep us safer.
Then I think—again—about the old movies my wife loves. I can’t help but imagine the growth each character underwent in their journey. Those journeys, were they real, would be filled with triumphs and tragedies. Those journeys would also be filled with discovery and understanding. And I think that’s the greatest element in our fragile freedom.
Our understanding comes from experience. If we are only allowed to learn about the safely curated experiences of others, we never discover anything for ourselves. And if we never discover anything for ourselves, we cannot develop a requisite number of experiences to understand the fragile beauty of choosing right over wrong through our own free will. If others make the choices for us—for our safety—we won’t know or understand our potential because we will have never been allowed to come close to it.
What a sad world that would be. It would be one without leaps of faith. One without daring for greatness. And one without any new memories. All we would be left with is old movies. Once again, this has been the World According to Chris