Non la Pace, Ma La Libertà - Part 1
What's In A Mantra?
I don’t really have a mantra. But I have some words that meant a lot to me long before I started putting them on hats and shirts. Non la Pace, Ma La Libertà, I repeat them to myself whenever I feel anxious or worry I’ve made too risky of a decision. They mean so much to me I even got them tattooed on my arm.
One of the things I love about these words, is that no one knows what they mean or where they’re from. It makes it feel a little bit more intimate, like a secret promise with myself. Sure, you might have googled them now and can find the translation. If not, let me save you the trouble. It’s Italian and it says, Not Peace, But Freedom. You won’t find who said it and it really doesn’t matter. The person isn’t someone I admire, only the words.
The main thing I love about these words is that the first time I read them, I felt like I had understood them my whole life. It’s the tradeoff that’s at the epicenter of the human experience. You can have peace and you can have some freedom but the latter is limited unless you give up the former.
Said another way, who doesn’t want to feel at peace? Having peace is great, peace within ourselves and peace among the people around us. And you can guarantee that you’ll have peace as long as you follow all the rules and never step out of line or do anything risky. Just conform and eventually you’ll always feel “peace”, you’ll always feel comfortable.
I like having peace but we’re being misled by it. I hear people use peace as a barometer for big decisions. People will say “I really feel peace about this decision.” That can be a good thing, but the message we’re sending is that if you have peace, the decision is right and if you don’t have peace, the decision is wrong. And that couldn’t be more misleading.
Did everyone have peace the first time their parents told them to jump in the swimming pool? Did everyone have peace before their first day of school? Their first day at a new job? Does everyone have peace before they get up to give a speech? Should we have skipped those things because we didn’t feel peace about them? Every one of those experiences challenged our peace by increasing our freedom.
It’s the reason we grow from children to adults and it’s the reason we fight wars, both internal and external. Something inside us is always inclined to lay down peace for even the hope of freedom.
But somewhere in our lives we began not just to Appreciate peace but to grab hold of it like a life preserver. Believing that our ability to float depends on how tightly we hold on to our peace. It’s a funny picture, thinking of a child wrapped around a life preserver unwilling to let go for fear of drowning. So close to discovering that they can swim. They can even swim to the bottom and touch it with their hand, if only they’d let go.
Peace isn’t a good barometer for big decisions. Prioritizing peace will limit what you’re willing to try and hold you back from your full potential because the thing that gives virtue to the human soul is Non La Pace, Ma La Libertà…Not Peace, But Freedom.