What better day to talk about freedom than the fourth of July…….a day in our history that marks independence. For our country, it was independence from religious persecution, taxes, etc and the freedom to govern ourselves. It is the day many years ago that we as a country “declared our independence”. And it is a reminder of all those in our country who have fought to keep those freedoms alive and who have given of their hearts, minds, bodies and even their lives. I am so thankful for our men and women who have chosen to help guard our freedoms and the freedoms of others. I pray our Creator..our Lord…blesses them all mightily. And that is my faith and belief and does not have to be yours.
image from montney.com
To some, the fourth of July is just a time to be off work, have BBQ and see fireworks and the real reason behind it becomes lost in all the celebrating. Freedom….oh what a precious thing we have and yet, it is often taken for granted. The mere fact that we can have cookouts and fireworks and can gather where ever we want to celebrate speaks of freedom.And even more so, our freedoms include being able to marry whomever we want, work whatever job and where we want, to own homes, to have children, to read books, to have freedom of speech, to read newspapers, to go to whatever church we want, and more. All of these freedoms come on the backs of those men and women who have sacrificed themselves and sometimes their lives to preserve that freedom. And I wish people could finally realize that just because I believe one way and you another does not make either one of us right or wrong. It is simply my belief and yours. We do not have to destroy another person’s beliefs just because they do not correspond with ours.
The words “Declaration of Independence” mean so much and yet, the event that precipitated our celebrating the fourth..the signing of the Declaration of Independence gets lost on people today and they have no idea what signing the Declaration of Independence has meant for all of us. We “declared” our independence from oppression: freedom from being owned by another country and being taxed to death after fighting the Revolutionary War. We fought the Civil War because of the taxation the North (Industry) wanted to impose on us. Good things came from both wars and that is called freedom.
People declare their independence in many ways. I declare mine every day that I get up out of this hospital bed and sit in my power chair and declare that I am independent of this hospital bed. I declare my freedom when I make a conscious effort to be honest and ethical and to be free from lies and manipulations. I declare my independence when I go to the church I want to go to and believe how I want. Others declare their independence when they leave jobs that have mired them down in misery. And still others declare their independence when they leave marriages that should never have been formed and move on in their lives. Declarations of independence happen daily. Each of us has our own declarations of independence but we need to remember we are a country founded on “Freedom” and so you do not have to destroy my beliefs and I do not have to destroy yours in order for you to be free or me to be free. We can each believe in our own way. Choosing to be free should not something done to hurt another person or group of people.
Independence comes in many forms and it is sad that the very country that gives so many their freedoms, people want to tear apart, denigrate, and shout to the world every dislike they have of the country that gives them the freedom to do just that. I remember a quote that says “If you can not be part of the solution, please do not be part of the problem” and that is what I see when I see so many complaining and wanting to attack or control others. They do not care the harm that their words do for they are not trying to heal the country but to further tear it apart because of a misguided notion that freedom of speech means saying anything you want to anyone you want without regard to consequences. Freedom comes with a price just as freedom of speech does.
Some people create their own oppressions with lies and lack of integrity. Those lies, manipulations and lack of integrity means that they will spend their lives looking over their shoulders wondering if this is the day people learn the truth about them. Is this the day someone reveals them as they are and destroys their illusion they have created of being a victim, or burdened down or needing help or even the illusion of being honest and ethical when they are not?
Freedom should include being yourself and when you are yourself and are honest and filled with integrity then you have declared your own independence from lies and manipulation. Every action we make is followed by consequences. It is the ripple effect and if those actions are not ones of freedom from lies and manipulations, then the result can be loss of people who really loved us to loss of respect. To some, that means nothing but to others, it will one day mean the world. That is oppression we have created for ourselves. We can make a stand for independence when we decide to be accountable for our words and actions. We are the only one responsible for what we say and do.
Independence or freedom is more than just declaring we are no longer owned by another country or by other people. It is a state of mind. We create our own freedoms in life just as we create within us our own happiness. We either oppress ourselves by becoming slaves to history, to things, to fashion, to peer pressure and even to our own emotions or we declare our freedom and our independence and we just “be ourselves”…the real us. We create our freedoms and declare our selves independent by not letting ourselves be caught up in bigotry and prejudice, by not letting money rule our lives, by not letting disabilities or illnesses keep us from being happy, by learning how to take care of ourselves and not depending on others, by being honest and ethical, by making decisions for ourselves and the list goes on. Independence comes in every step of our lives and in all the decisions we make.
Just as surely as the mustang ran free in our country, freedom is a part of our daily lives no matter where we live. Even when we live in restricted areas, we can still have freedom of heart and the freedom to be happy. Freedom does NOT mean squashing others to make us feel better. It means embracing the meaning of freedom and respect for others.
image from horsechannel.com
While we celebrate the fourth of July…what independence are you celebrating today?
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