reflections: the cost of freedom

photo credit: Frank Relle
photo credit: Frank Relle

Under this full moon, in the shadow of our country honoring its living veterans of war who have fought for our freedoms (Veterans Day 11/11), I urge you to listen to Maggies Koerner’s song Neutral Ground (see link below) while reading Mark Twain’s verse (see below excerpt from “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”)

Then …close your eyes and reflect on what you just saw, read & heard.  Feel the Louisiana air run across your fingers, smell the factory air & the swamp green tendrils rise from the murky waters and hear the soulful sound of a songstress that pulses with the ballads of our ancestors.

Rise up and over…

Crossing over the Mississippi
Crossing over the Mississippi

…The Mississippi River. A life line of industry and ecology in our country, it once beat with the pulse of slave drums and songs within the walls of riverside plantations. Plantations that churned out sugar from the blood & sweat of  the enslaved. Poison created to make the white man wealthy.

Today it is no different, except the poison is chemical not cane.

Spooky shit. Chemicals and Christ along the Mississsippi. Dow, St. Charles Operations LA
Spooky shit. Chemicals and Christ along the Mississsippi. Dow, St. Charles Operations LA

Cemeteries abutting chemical plants. People live and die like this. The rumbling and churning rhythms of the monster of a plant creates eerie sounds as you walk through the tightly gridded maze of graves of hundreds of families gone way too soon from this earth.

What does our freedom cost? It costs lives.

What is freedom to you?

For me it is the ability to speak out against injustice. To create without constraint. To breathe deep and immerse myself in clear waters. To be able to worship in any way I wish. To define my sex & have sex, how I choose to, with whomever I choose; and he,or she, the same. To be free, is to be in the pursuit of happiness.

Above all to me, personal freedom is the ability to transform. To create a future not based on the past.

So I urge you to exercise your freedom. Someone died so you could live better than they did. Fight like hell for it!

With Love- Lara



“It made me shiver. And I about made up my mind to pray, and see if I couldn’t try to quit being the kind of a boy I was and be better. So I kneeled down. But the words wouldn’t come. Why wouldn’t they? It warn’t no use to try and hide it from Him. Nor from ME, neither. I knowed very well why they wouldn’t come. It was because my heart warn’t right; it was because I warn’t square; it was because I was playing double. I was letting ON to give up sin, but away inside of me I was holding on to the biggest one of all. I was trying to make my mouth SAY I would do the right thing and the clean thing, and go and write to that nigger’s owner and tell where he was; but deep down in me I knowed it was a lie, and He knowed it. You can’t pray a lie–I found that out.

reflections of a setting sun in a petroleum waste ditch

So I was full of trouble, full as I could be; and didn’t know what to do. At last I had an idea; and I says, I’ll go and write the letter–and then see if I can pray. Why, it was astonishing, the way I felt as light as a feather right straight off, and my troubles all gone. So I got a piece of paper and a pencil, all glad and excited, and set down and wrote:

Miss Watson, your runaway nigger Jim is down here two mile below Pikesville, and Mr. Phelps has got him and he will give him up for the reward if you send.


I felt good and all washed clean of sin for the first time I had ever felt so in my life, and I knowed I could pray now. But I didn’t do it straight off, but laid the paper down and set there thinking–thinking how good it was all this happened so, and how near I come to being lost and going to hell. And went on thinking. And got to thinking over our trip down the river; and I see Jim before me all the time: in the day and in the night-time, sometimes moonlight, sometimes storms, and we a-floating along, talking and singing and laughing. But somehow I couldn’t seem to strike no places to harden me against him, but only the other kind. I’d see him standing my watch on top of his’n, ‘stead of calling me, so I could go on sleeping; and see him how glad he was when I come back out of the fog; and when I come to him again in the swamp, up there where the feud was; and such-like times; and would always call me honey, and pet me and do everything he could think of for me, and how good he always was; and at last I struck the time I saved him by telling the men we had small-pox aboard, and he was so grateful, and said I was the best friend old Jim ever had in the world, and the ONLY one he’s got now; and then I happened to look around and see that paper.

It was a close place. I took it up, and held it in my hand. I was a-trembling, because I’d got to decide, forever, betwixt two things, and I knowed it. I studied a minute, sort of holding my breath, and then says to myself:

“All right, then, I’ll GO to hell”–and tore it up.
Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

The red glow of sunset fire along the Mississippi from a Dow chemical plant. Brimstone on the river Hades.
The red glow of sunset fire along the Mississippi from a Dow chemical plant. Brimstone on the river Hades.