but don't get in the cage in order to let them out.

Having made the decision to commit myself to working toward a more just and equitable world and a world in which I can achieve freedom, but not at the cost of others' freedom, I begin to realize the scope of how this commitment has changed my life. I realize the extent to which it causes me to reflect on my actions, both personal and professional. And also the extent to which it has made me realize, in working with people who have been oppressed, and having been oppressed myself (both by outside forces and me) how careful I must be not to fall into habitual roles of (for lack of a better term) master and slave. Freire writes in Pedagogy of the Oppressed that "Solidarity requires that one enter into the situation of those with whom one is solidary" and "true solidarity with the oppressed means fighting at their side to transform the reality which has made them these 'beings for another.' The oppressor is soidary with the oppressed only when he stops regarding the oppressed as an abstract category and sees them as persons who have been unjustly dealt with, deprived of their voice, cheated in the sale of their labor - when he stops making pious, sentimental, and individualistic gestures and risks an act of love." Why is love a risk? I ask myself this, but think that I know the answer. It is the confusion that can come along with love, when one understands where someone is coming from, has empathy, but then forgets oneself and the standards with which one lives and must hold up the other to. If these standards are forgotten then I am getting into the cage and allowing myself to act the role of slave along with the other. And of course these moments happen. In the last several years, I have come closer to experiencing what the poor face in the United States then ever before. I have learned what it is like to have to ask for help and how alienating and dehumanizing things like the department of social services and free clinics can be and how much some people look down on having to take advantage of these things. And how stressful this can be. I have been on the other side of the counter from all the people that look like me and have waited in waiting rooms with people of a different race and class then the one I grew up in. And I know that I have not had the experience of the people I have been waiting with because of who I am, I have been singled out, given preferential treatment, and at the same time, been written off, my concerns taken lightly because they are not as dire as those around me.

It makes me think of the film Todo Sobre mi Madre (All About my Mother) directed by Almodovar. The two characters Manuela and Rosa are linked by their involvement with a transvestite named Lola. Manuela knew Lola years earlier and goes to find him when their son is killed. Lola is HIV positive and is an elusive character in the movie. Rosa is a young nun who becomes pregnant by Lola and also contracts the disease from him. I think of Manuela and Rosa as two women who are also committed to something greater than themselves, Rosa however, gets into the cage with Lola when she sleeps with him. Manuela does not judge Rosa for this decision, but also does not take it lightly. And Manuela has also made this decision, albeit under different circumstances, but when those circumstances changed, she chose differently. We will all choose to get into a cage at one moment or another, it is a matter of realizing this and then choosing again to get out of the cage and acting as an example to others that it is possible to free oneself from oppression. As more people leave their cages, it will be possible to transform the world so that there are less cages to get into and so that less people will begin their lives in them.

Freedom is a choice and within freedom are myriad choices. From one choice to the next our freedom increases and decreases and our choices also affect others freedom. It is why reflection on our choices is crucial, why we must be in a constant state of action/reflection. We all have the potential to act as oppressor or oppressed, we all have the choice to change how we act. One last word from Freire, "Liberation is a praxis: the action and reflection of men and women upon their world in order to transform it." Let us transform the world, it is possible through our decisions.