Freedom

IMG_1463In just a few short days, those of us who live in the United States will be celebrating our Independence Day, also known as the Fourth of July.  Traditionally, the holiday is observed with parades, bar-b-ques and fireworks, and I’m sure this year will be no exception.  Despite the many serious issues that our country is facing, I think it’s a good thing for us to acknowledge and celebrate the “birth” of our nation and try to remember that, like it or not, we’re all in this together.  My personal opinion is that we would do well to start concentrating far more on what unites us and far less on what divides us, but I know that is wishful thinking.

Still, when I think of Independence Day, it reminds me to be thankful for the freedoms I do have, and I’m not just talking about those that are guaranteed in our Constitution.

I may live in a world where there is far too much hatred and intolerance being spewed from all sides, but I am free to choose just exactly how I respond to it.  I can join in the argument, trying to shout down those who disagree, or silence them with fear and intimidation.  But I can also choose to express my own views confidently and politely, and to do my best to truly listen to those who see things differently.  In other words, I have the freedom to decide if I want to add to the problem, or if I want to try to be one of the much-needed voices of tolerance and reconciliation.

I’ve never been particularly good at saying “no,” even when my schedule is already over-crowded with commitments.  I know I have been blessed with a relatively good life, and I believe that I have a moral obligation to help others whenever I can.  But I also need to remember that I have the freedom to create my own boundaries, and to protect myself from the overwhelming stress that comes from trying to take care of everyone else’s needs while ignoring my own.  Freedom comes with responsibility, not only to others, but also to myself.

I’m not exactly sure how I’ll be celebrating this Independence Day, although I do hope I get the chance to see some nice fireworks and eat some good food.  But I’m hoping that whatever I do, I’ll also remember to be thankful for my own personal freedoms to choose the way I want to live and the kind of person I want to be.  And I hope that I’ll have the strength and wisdom to choose wisely, and live a life that is as free and independent of hate, guilt, intolerance and ignorance as I possibly can.  Because I believe that’s the kind of independence that is truly worth celebrating.

77 thoughts on “Freedom

  1. We here in Canada are just in the middle of our celebration of the nation’s birthday. Every word you said in your well written post holds true for Canada as well. We too have been blessed with the freedom that too often is taken for granted. With the freedom comes the responsibility to defend it in a spirit of tolerance. It takes courage to stay calm in the face of hatred, racism, intolerance and violence. But calm we must remain in order to have a chance to win the battle against the evil forces in the world. Thank you, Ann!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you, Peter! I agree with you completely. It really does take courage to stay calm in the midst of so much fear and hate. But in the end, what choice do we have? Our world is what we make of it, and I want to live in a good one!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Ann, your final two sentences are profound and beautifully written.

    On a lighter note: I live near Philadelphia, which starts the July 4th celebration six days before the 4th. Last night my wife and I went to Philly’s waterfront to see a fireworks display. It was terrific!

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Looking at the bright side of things isn’t always easy and isn’t everybody’s cup of tea either. But sometimes when we do look at that side, it reminds us that in this world there is still humanity, there is still hope. I wish everybody could share your perspective.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree, it’s not easy and it doesn’t come to many of us naturally. But what I was trying to say is that we don’t move forward as a community, or a nation, by constantly attacking each other. No matter how different we are, we need to figure out a way to get along and to be respectful of each other, because by doing otherwise all we really doing is hurting everyone. And, as you say, we do need hope! Thanks for your honest and insightful comment!

      Liked by 2 people

  4. A very powerful and profound post Ann and the comments already indicate that you have articulated what so many of us are feeling! Well said …
    Do the American Indians agree with your 4th of July celebration?

    Liked by 2 people

    • You’re welcome! It is so easy to feel as if we are drowning in hate and discord. Personally, it helps me to remember that I get to choose not to join in. We are all free to hold whatever beliefs we want, but how we express them certainly effects the rest of us, I think.

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  5. It’s not always easy to respond gracefully to the divisiveness all around us. But I agree, we are all in this together and I will join you in trying to concentrate on that which unites us instead of what divides us. If our example helps bring at least one person over from the side of hate then it’s a worthwhile endeavor. Thank-you and have a happy Fourth, Ann!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Des! That’s what I figure. If we can just stop one person from hating the “other” side, then we have done a good thing. Far better than joining in the battle that threatens to consume us all! We aren’t all alike, but do need to figure out a way to live together peacefully.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ann, thanks for your post and reply. It’s so hard for me to understand why people feel the need to attack others for their beliefs and way of life. Why the need to control or condemn the actions of others? I have my own theories, but even those may infuriate some people.
        Aside from self-entertainment and attempts to entertain, I try through my blog to limit negativity and show kindness in hopes that others may feel the ripple effect. Maybe that’s idealistic and wishful thinking. I could, but I don’t want to add to the ugly noise. I’d rather broadcast only a positive outlook because like you, I have grandchildren whose lives are just starting out. I’m never sure if I’m going about it the right way or not. We’re all forced to make choices about how we live with the angry mobs around us. You have to do what’s best for you and your loved ones. I totally appreciate and respect your approach.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Thanks for the affirmation, Des! It is hard to know how to respond to the angry mobs, but the one thing I know for sure is I don’t want to join them, no matter what they are fighting for. Far better to model the behavior we want to see, especially for those of us who have grandchildren. Personally, I only follow blogs that take the high road, and yours is certainly one of those!

          Liked by 1 person

  6. Ann, I agree that it is essential to remember that I have many freedoms and that I always have the choice in my response to what happens around me. I can choose to respond in love or fear and I believe my actions matter. It is easy to forget the many privileges I have been given in my life just because of where I was born. Thanks for the reminder. Happy 4th of July.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Ali! I think all of us can relate to your comment. We need to remember that we do have the freedom of choice, as not everyone in this world does. And personally, I believe that we have the moral responsibility to choose what helps others, not hurts them.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you!!! We may not be able to avoid hate, intolerance and ignorance in others, but I honestly believe we can choose not be free from those things in our own words and actions. Thanks for the comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Sadly I do not believe we are a country that celebrates freedom any longer. I am sad and ashamed to be an American these days personally and won’t be celebrating this fourth of July. Not until I feel EVERY person in our country has the same rights and privileges no matter what color, religion, region of the country, socio-economic status, gender, race and political affiliation is equally protected by the law and respected by the vast majority of the population that sees to it that the people who govern them understand this fact. Sorry to be so bold on your non-political blog but I can’t help it.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. We had a terrific Fourth–very laid back and calm. We invited family, friends, and neighbors over, and everybody just chatted. No earth-shattering revelations. No politics. It was nice. I hope yours was, too. 🙂

    As to how divided we are, my WWI story was my reply to that. Small and of limited effectiveness perhaps, but it’s my candle, and I lit it, FWIW. I think all major conflicts happen over the frantic pleas of those trying to avoid the inevitable consequences of listening to the drum beats of war. In the end, the eyes of every enemy are also those of another human being. If I could choose to impress one thing on Americans in this rather frightening time, it would be a renewed awareness of this. Peace may involve being constantly irritated by opposing viewpoints, but it’s so much better than the alternative.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m really glad you wrote that book. I think each little “candle” does make a difference, because it helps spread the word that there is a better way. I couldn’t agree more that we do need to learn to live to be irritated and uncomfortable with opposing viewpoints. If we insist that others always see things our way, there will always be war and conflict. We need to move past that viewpoint, I think. Thanks, Cathleen!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Beautiful Ann. Freedom is to express and to decide to refrain. Freedom is to love and to choose to not hate . Freedom is to wish well for everyone despite what they think . Cheers to such freedom. May everyone around the world experience such freedom .

    Liked by 1 person

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