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Sunday Reads: Paris, freedom, and sports

What is it that makes us free?

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Terror is the fear that all things, at their core, are hopelessly broken. That we, as human beings, are doomed to a life of suffering, confusion, and despair.

The recent attacks in Paris left me shaken, deeply shaken. The eight gunmen came at night, heavily armored. They targeted places that we hold up as our freedoms. The freedom to watch a concert. The freedom to eat in a cafe, or at a restaurant. To eat, surrounded by friends. The freedom to be in public without fear, no matter the color of your skin or your religious beliefs.

The freedom to attend a sporting event.

But really, what are these things that make us "free?"

Is it our right to vote? Is it the seeming equality we all share? Is it the kindness we show to strangers? Is it our right to go out in public? Is it our right to voice dissent?

Is it the love that we have for our spouse? For our children? Is it the right to an education?

What is it that makes me a free man?

Is it the fact that I can wake up each morning with a clear conscience? That I have never committed some horrendous act of pain and violence? Am I free in that I am guilt-free? That I have never harmed another human being? Am I free because I can watch my favorite team play basketball? Am I free because I can listen to The Beatles while walking the streets of New York City?

How do I define my freedom?

In a world full of hate, darkness, and murder, how do I define my freedom? For in the end, we are all chained together on this ship -- this glorious blue ship of a planet -- riding endlessly around a small yellow sun in the blackness of space.

Knowing how precious and how fragile life can be, why do we make it so much harder for ourselves every day? How can hatred seep so deeply into a man's heart that he would carry out the atrocities of Paris?

I am lost. Bristling at the myriad questions.

But I do know this: in times of despair, we as a human race have re-embraced those things by which we define our freedom. We've stayed together, and we've carried on.

Remember this:

And this:

"This is our fucking city. And nobody gonna dictate our freedom. Stay strong. Thank you."

This is not only our fucking city, this is our fucking world. We are all on it, and we all live within it, in this strange civilization we have constructed. We all breathe the same air, and we all share the same dreams, however disparate those dreams may seem on the surface.

We all dream for happiness. We all dream for companionship. We all dream that we may live freely, unaffected by tragedy. But we all know that we will not. For each life holds within it the highs and the lows of our dreams. We shall all live through happiness, and through terror.

While we are alive, I hope that we can at least safely attend to our dreams. That we may attend a concert. That we may attend a basketball game. That we may walk through the night without fear. That we may be fearless in everything we attempt.

For that is the root of our freedom. It is the freedom from fear.

Eight gunmen in the night cannot take that from us.

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