I found the infant nursing the milk of slavery from his mother’s bosom, and the children learning submission with the alphabet.
Patriotism – She possesses various names, but one reality. She has many appearances, but is made of one element. In truth, she is an everlasting ailment bequeathed by each generation unto its successor.
I found the deaf slavery, which stifles the soul and the heart, rendering man but an empty echo of a voice, and pitiful shadow of a body. I found the lame slavery, which places man’s neck under the domination of the tyrant and submits strong bodies and weak minds to the sons of Greed for use as instruments to their power.
I found the twisted slavery, which causes the tongues of the weak to move with fear, and speak outside of their feelings, and they feign to be meditating their plight, but they become as empty sacks, which even a child can fold or hang. I found the perpetual slavery, which crowns the sons of monarchs as kings, and offers no regard to merit.
When I grew tired of following the dissolute ages, and wearied of beholding processions of stoned people, I walked lonely in the Valley of the Shadow of Life, where the past attempts to conceal itself in guilt, and the soul of the future folds and rests itself too long. There, at the edge of Blood and Tears River, which crawled like a poisonous viper and twisted like a criminals dream, I listened to the frightened whisper of the ghosts of slaves, and gazed at nothingness.
When midnight came and the spirits emerged from hidden places, I saw a cadaverous, dying spectre fall to her knees, gazing at the moon. I approached her, asking “what is your name?”
“My name is Liberty”, replied this ghastly shadow of a corpse.
And I inquired, “Where are your children?”
And Liberty, tearful and weak, gasped, "One died crucified, another died mad, and the third one is not yet born.”
She limped away and spoke further, but the mist in my eyes and cries of my heart prevented sight or hearing.
Selection from The Treasured Writings of Kahlil Gibran
Kahlil Gibran (1883 -1931)