Between Freedom & Emancipation: I found myself
Gaza, Ever thought about Freedom? Silly question, I know for sure that indeed you thought about it allot, but what I meant is: Have you ever looked the meaning up in the dictionary and thought about it? As you can see in the picture above, “Freedom” has several meanings. But in my personal opinion, Freedom is a feeling that only you can interpret in your own way and words. Which definition suits you from the above picture? I chose one, I will come back to it later.
As a Palestinian, I was born to seek freedom. But also as a human I was born with a thirst for freedom. Its not just about indulging in a free independent country, no, its also about setting yourself and humanity free then using this freedom to fight cruelty, poverty, inhumanity, war crimes…..etc.
Gaza is the biggest open air prison that earth has ever known, these aren’t just words, I live in Gaza, I live in that prison. Waking up every day in a besieged big open-air prison isn’t easy, thirst for freedom elevates every second and it turns into a pressure or a duty or a must or maybe all three together. I never felt unsafe in Gaza, but I never felt safe either. I never felt free but god knows that I tried so hard to find white canvases to paint freedom on, believing that freedom can be found in little details and can be sparked within little steps.
My daily routine consists of power outages, Israeli warplanes either bombing or violating the sanctity of Gaza’s sky or both, water shortages, daily news of Israel’s violation of human rights in Palestine, Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike, Fatah-Hamas division, news about Syria, Egypt and the world.
Then I traveled to the US. I lived in Manhattan for a month, I was always busy with UN media training and discovering every place I can. Suddenly, my body gets accustomed to a whole new system. Suddenly, every pressure is lifted. Suddenly, I feel like a normal human being who is living in a familiar easy place. Suddenly, I think I feel a certain definition of the word “Freedom”, I feel “improper familiarity”. Why do I feel this sensation of improper familiarity? Because I am not designed to feel like a normal human being. HELLO, I am Palestinian and I live in Gaza, if that doesn’t scream “abnormal”, I don’t know what does. And I shouldn’t feel any familiar to a place other than my homeland, especially if it’s the US which has a government that is supporting the occupation of my homeland.
I also felt guilty, I felt like I am betraying Gaza. Hell, I felt like I am betraying Palestine, all Palestinians and the Palestinian cause. How can I forget everything and just dare to feel free while my country is still occupied and my home is still besieged? HOW?
What felt like a sweet moment quickly turned into bitterness and guilt.
But “Freedom” is overpowering, let it not kid or fool you. Freedom is indeed dangerous. I couldn’t stop it or help it, I was feeling “FREE” and I felt fear clenching over my heart and taking over my body.
What happens after I go back to Gaza? Will I crave this rare sensation? Will I seek it out of Gaza instead of needing it for and in Palestine? What if I feel free out of Palestine and never in Palestine? What if freedom out of Palestine becomes a goal instead of seeking freedom inside and for Palestine? What if feeling free out of Palestine becomes a comfort zone and I end up forgetting about freeing my country?
I got confused, then angry, then frustrated and I nearly cried in the middle of a street in Manhattan’s upper east side. Yet, I kept walking.
I felt the most free when I was alone walking around New York. I will never ever forgot the first moment of recognizing a weird sensation that was running slowly but majorly through my blood. I was walking aimlessly through the streets of Manhattan, losing track of time\place\directions. It was a Saturday and I had nothing to hold me down, I knew I would end up getting back home if I get lost anyway, so I just kept walking with nothing on my mind.
I reached a corner and was about to cross to the other side of the street, not caring where it leads me, then I stopped. Time stopped, I froze. I felt no pressure or stress, no worries or cares. I felt free. I could go wherever I want, do whatever I may and no matter what I will get back home safely at the end of the day. Is that freedom? Or is it emancipation? Or maybe both? Or I simply might be losing my mind.
I continued walking. It was a very cold but sunny day. I had my headphones in my ears, some music was jamming and I just smiled. I had many mixed emotions but I decided to confront them later.
I went to bed that day knowing that eventually I will have to face the inevitable. I need to figure out what happened with me that day and how and why I felt what I felt. I looked the word “Emancipation” up online to see if I felt any literal meanings of it. I gave up but then I came across the medical meaning of it, shown in the picture below.
Yes, that was me, I was the original homogeneous embryo. I gradually separated my mindset from Gaza and I found myself entering new fields with potential of development known as “New York”. I felt worse. I don’t want to separate gradually from Palestine and Gaza. I want to remain a loyal concerned original homogeneous embryo. I was confused, and I thought I have lost my mind already.
I found myself between “Freedom” and “Emancipation”, I found my home between them. I might feel the same feelings in other countries and cities around the world but none of them will resonate until I feel them in my own homeland (Palestine). So I had to accept how good those feelings felt and yet remind myself that I need to keep seeking freedom for my country until I feel those same exact feelings in my own homeland.
We are all born free until something or someone tries to oppress us. We are willing to spend our lifetime seeking freedom and even risk losing it for the sake of freedom.
So until Palestine is free, I won’t rest. I might travel, take breaks and cherish instantaneous freedom but I won’t give up, hopefully. My thoughts also are with Syria, Egypt and all oppressed nations around the world.
Love, peace, humanity and hugs,
Omar from Gaza