“Bread and Freedom” by Albert Camus

“Freedom is made up especially of duties” -- Albert Camus

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My tattered used copy of Albert Camus’s Resistance, Rebellion, and Death published in 1960 as part of the Modern Library Book series.

I find the following passage insightful in our era of privileged people demanding services of laborers, all while decrying science.

It is true that freedom, when it is made up principally of privileges, insults labor and separates it from culture. But freedom is not made up principally of privileges; it is made up especially of duties. And the moment each of us tries to give freedom’s duties precedence over the privileges, freedom joins together labor and culutre and sets in motion the only force that can effectively serve justice. The rule of our action, the secret of our resistance can easily be stated: everything that humiliates labor also humiliates the intelligence, and vice versa. And the revolutionary struggle, the centuries-old straining toward liberation can be defined first of all as a double and constant rejection of humiliation.

To tell the truth, we have not yet cast off that humiliation. But the wheel turns, history changes, and a time is coming, I am sure, when we shall cease to be alone…The way ahead is long. Yet if war does not come and mingle everything in its hideous confusion, we shall have time at last to give a form to the justice and freedom we need. But to achieve that we must henceforth categorically refuse, without anger but irrevocably, the lies with which we have been stuffed…Freedom is not a gift received from a State or a leader but a possession to be won every day by the effort of each and the union of all.

Albert Camus, Bread and Freedom (speech given at the Labor Exchange of Saint Etienne on 10 May 1953)

From my positions of privilege, I have a duty to those that provides me services. I wear a mask, I was my hands, and even then I seek to limit the points of contact. The mask, as I understand it, does not protect me, but instead helps shield others from any contagions that I have.

I value each and every person toiling to live through this war of asphyxiation. Our narcissistic and malignant president lies and agitates to pit people against each other. President Trump’s spews insults and aims for humiliation of the body and the mind.

Today, I called out someone on Twitter for a post that added just a bit of fuel to xenophobia regarding those of Chineses ancestry. I didn’t respond in anger, but refused to allow that slight injustice to pass. They retracted their post, and I hope they reflect on what they said and how it drove division.

Truth matters, for without it there is neither justice nor freedom.