Difficulties of Freedom
Thomas Lynch, John Ciardi, Edgar Allen Poe, and Brian Linnane S.J. express the problems that arise from humanity’s relationship with freedom. “Liberty” by Lynch focuses on freedom contoured by law; the poem concludes with the notion that as long as there are rules in society we will never feel free. In “The Cask of Amontillado” Poe illuminates the horrors that a man will commit in the absence of freedom. “Suburban” by Ciardi portrays how we attempt to minimize conflict at the cost of our own dignity because we are held captive by modern society; he feels it will accumulate and lead to chaos. In the 2013 “Commitment to Justice Lecture” Fr. Linnane discussed the need to help the poor and the marginalized, which has occurred because modern society is free to not help those in need. All four men examine liberty in an attempt to shed light on the difficult relationship between freedom and humanity.
We have all felt the weight of the law whether through a speeding ticket or worse. “Liberty” is a criticism of Lynch’s government’s control. Lynch feels trapped because his government’s jurisdiction is so pervasive that it even controls the minute aspect of where he goes to the bathroom. Lynch states, “I go out and piss on the front lawn as a form of freedom-liberty from porcelain and plumbing and the Great Beyond” (Meyer 538). Liberty from porcelain and plumbing juxtaposes the Great Beyond; this satire is criticizing the government, humanity, and even the beyond for forcing Lynch to pee in a toilet. This leaves his reader wondering why it is that we pee in toilets. In the last line of “Liberty” Lynch states, “Consider liberty in that last townland where they have no crowns, no crappers and no ex-wives” (Meyer 538). Here Lynch is calling for total freedom because he feels trapped in the chains of his society, his government, and furthermore himself. However, Poe shows Lynch the error of his ways.
In “The Cask of Amontillado” Poe details the revenge of Montresor who kills his acquaintance Fortunato. Montresor is a member of society who follows the rules, but once he is able to bring Fortunato to a place where the rules cannot find them, Montresor expresses his humanity in the act of murdering Fortunato. Poe illustrates that in the absence of rules, and even in the absence of the enforcement of rules humanity will tear itself apart. Both the Murder of Montresor and the Lynch peeing on his lawn portray the evil of human nature, and the need for rules to control it. However, Ciardi empathizes with Lynch; both feel that a pent up frustration with the rules will eventually lead to as Ciardi puts it, “[a day] when even the suburbs will give up their dead” (Meyer 512).
“Suburban” commentates on the hypocrisy of modern society. Ciardi knows that his dog did not defecate on his neighbor’s lawn, but rather than explaining this to his neighbor he just goes along with her story. By going along with his neighbor’s story Ciardi loses his dignity, a price he is more than happy to pay. Ciardi knows that only trouble will come of his honesty stating, “But why lose out on organic gold” (Meyer 511). The organic gold he speaks of is his relationship with his neighbor. He is satirically stating that he doesn’t give a crap about his neighbor and he just wants to shut her up. Ciardi realizes he’s stuck with his neighbor and feels that his lack of freedom, brought on by society, will grow and lead to chaos; a chaos that Fr. Linnane reflected on in his “Commitment to Justice Lecture”.
Fr. Linnane appears to have concluded that rules are necessary, and those who criticize them are often ignorant. Fr. Linnane described how due to an absence of rules the impoverished are being oppressed. Fr. Linnane stated the impoverished reflect the evil of human nature that has leaked into both government and society. He feels that because there are no rules that force the prosperous to help the poor human greed has caused the poor to suffer. Fr. Linnane attempted, as Poe attempted, to shine light on the evil of human nature that arise from excessive freedom.
All four men have different perspectives of freedom. Lynch and Ciardi seem to desire more freedom, but Poe and Fr. Linnane disagree with strong evidence that rules are necessary. From Poe and Linanane’s evidence it seems that rules are necessary, even though at times they seem extreme.