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An Appreciation of Freedom
LIFE, LIBERTY, AND THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS
Powerful words from a man who understood the precious nature of freedom. Adams’ ancestors had lived under what they believed to be tyranny, and the seeds of freedom had been planted in Adams in his youth, to be watered, fed, and cared for, until the seeds became strong plants and bore fruit. He understood all too well the nature of freedom, the value of freedom, and the necessity of freedom.
I am of the belief that freedom is taken for granted in the United States today, and in other supposedly free societies around the world. Despite the problems that we face in society today, we still get up every day, stretch our tired old bones, and go about our business with minimal interference from government. There are those who rail against what they perceive to be loss of freedoms, and I understand their unrest and I agree with them in principle. Freedom is a commodity that must always be safe-guarded, for once one small increment of freedom is taken away, the door has been opened for more restrictions, until one day you wake up and do not recognize the land you embraced as your own since birth.
Still, I believe to truly appreciate freedom, one must live without it for a period of time, like Adams did and those of his generation.
I HAVE A DREAM
“Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom. A man can't ride you unless your back is bent.”
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Martin Luther King, Jr. understood the nature of freedom, as did all blacks during the 50’s and 60’s. I still have vivid memories of signs that announced “whites only,” posted on restaurants and buses, rest rooms and shops. It can certainly be argued, and with great conviction, that the blacks in the United States are still not economically free today, but there can be no one who doubts that fifty years ago freedom did not exist for that race.
King did not live to see his dream become a reality, but most certainly his children have, and many of his followers have also. Theirs is a true appreciation of freedom, for part of their lives was marked by the stigma of bondage, and once bondage is cast aside true appreciation occurs.
THE RIGHT TO VOTE
Ms. Woodhull understood the meaning of freedom, and she certainly understood the longing for it. Today women by the millions go forth and vote for candidates. It is expected and it is right, but it was not always so. Today it is Constitutionally guaranteed, but it was not always so.
It should come as no surprise to learn that there are still cultures in the world today where suffrage does not exist. There are still cultures in the world today where women are married in an arranged business contract between families. There are still cultures in the world today where women are bought and sold. Do you suppose, if they suddenly experienced freedom, that they would appreciate it?
A young woman was recently shot in the head for speaking out about freedom in the Middle East. How do you suppose she feels about the rights of women and suffrage? Do you suppose she will one day gain an appreciation for freedom, something we in the United States take for granted?
FROM ALL WALKS OF LIFE, THEY COME IN SEARCH
“ Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
Every year they come by the hundreds of thousands, crammed into containers on cargo ships and floating on rafts as they cross the ocean towards freedom. There is that word again…..freedom!
They risk political retribution, oftentimes death, without a doubt hate and scorn, and still they strive to reach a country that promises liberty and justice.
Do you suppose, when they reach our shores, that they have an appreciation of freedom? Do you suppose they have some concept of what freedom means?
“BILL, WE FOUGHT FOR FREEDOM.”
Those words were spoken to me by my father when I asked him why he had fought in World War 2. There was no hesitation in his answer; he did not have to reflect before speaking. He fought in five campaigns in Italy, faced death on several occasions, and to his way of thinking it was all about freedom, a nebulous concept that means oh so much more when carrying a rifle and hugging the ground as rounds fly by overhead.
When Rome had finally been liberated he spoke of the thousands on the streets, cheering the soldiers, embracing each other and tears flowing freely. I suspect that those in Rome during those final days understood and appreciated freedom, just as those did who were freed from the prisoner-of-war camps during the latter stages of the war, and those who somehow survived the concentration camps.
From My Buddy Linda
- What Does Freedom Mean?
The 2012 general election is over and I cannot help but think about the freedom I have in this great country. What does freedom mean? This is my take on the freedom I am blessed to have.
America the Beautiful by Ray Charles
Do you appreciate your freedom?
DO WE UNDERSTAND AND APPRECIATE?
It is so easy to give lip-service to something like freedom. Those of us who have never known oppression, never known slavery, and never known serious restrictions to our liberties, go about our days reaping the benefits of a principle that was paid for with blood, sweat and tears.
“A hero is someone who understands the responsibility that comes with his freedom.”
And that is the whole point now isn’t it? Few of us have fought for freedom. Few of us have had freedom taken from us. For the majority of us, freedom has been given to us as a right of birth, and it will be as much a part of our lifetime as breathing.
There is, however, a responsibility that comes with that right of birth. When we accept that gift, we are also accepting the responsibility to promote freedom for all human beings. To do otherwise is to practice hypocrisy to the extreme. This is not a case of the chosen few reaping the benefits while others scrounge for the table scraps. It must be freedom for all or else freedom has no meaning.
Whenever the rights of the few are infringed upon, it is my responsibility to stand up and speak. Whenever freedoms are limited I cannot, in good conscience, turn my head and pretend not to see. I cannot pull the curtains, lock the door, and adopt an attitude of every man and woman for themselves, not when a commodity as precious as freedom is at stake.
When you wake up tomorrow morning, look to the heavens and thank whichever god you believe in for your freedom, but also remind yourself that the freedom that you take for granted can be lost if vigil is not kept and action is not taken.
There are no shortcuts to freedom. There are no abridged versions nor are there any discounts on the price that must be paid. That price must be paid by you, and you, and you, and yes, by me, and it must be a steep and dear price; otherwise, the value of freedom will be depreciated and what was once taken for granted will remain no longer.
2012 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)