July 4th has come and gone but we need to think about what freedom really means. The Fourth of July holiday is not just an extra day off. It should mean much more to us.
If you look up the word freedom in the dictionary, it will give you several definitions:
•the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint.
• absence of subjection to foreign domination or despotic government.
• the state of not being imprisoned or enslaved.
• the state of being physically unrestricted and able to move easily.
• (freedom from) the state of not being subject to or affected by (a particular undesirable thing).
• the power of self-determination attributed to the will; the quality of being independent of fate or necessity.
• unrestricted use of something.
• archaic familiarity or openness in speech or behavior.
What it doesn’t tell you, is that freedom comes with a price and is not actually “free”. It also will not say that with freedom comes responsibility.
While we do have free speech, we shouldn’t automatically shoot off our mouths without thinking about what we are saying. Doing so, sometimes has consequences. If our speech is of hate or will detrimentally harm another human being, we need to find a way to keep our mouth shut. How many friendships are lost because someone wasn’t responsible enough about what they said. That doesn’t mean you don’t speak truth. Just because we are guaranteed freedom of speech does not give us a carte blank check to spew out hate. Having real freedom of speech, means being responsible for what you say.
In today’s world we are slaves to our cell phones and to technology. When you look at it in those terms, it doesn’t seem so good. While we may not be able to totally be free of our cell phones, we do not have to be chained to them so much. If you can’t put it down long enough for a conversation, there is a problem.
Our men and women in uniform serve on battlefields around the world to help keep us a nation free from tyranny and government oppression. That doesn’t give us the right to do anything we want to do. We must be responsible for our actions.
Our forefathers escaped tyranny and oppression and that’s why they wanted to form a sovereign nation. They painstakingly penned the Declaration of Independence. We would do well when we celebrate July 4th to reflect on these words from the document and what they really mean and ask that our government leaders take it to heart and make changes. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”
Our country is not perfect and right now we are in a transformation period. But what we have here is still better than any other place on earth. Things in Washington have gotten out of control and our forefathers would want it to be restructured back to the way it was originally meant to be: “Government by and for the people”.
Freedom doesn’t mean we do not have responsibility to our government or that we don’t give it what it is due (give Caesar what Caesar is due).
Freedom doesn’t mean that you should just sit and do nothing. When God freed the children of Israel it wasn’t so they could relax by the pool and drink iced tea for the rest of their lives. He set them free so they could fulfill their mission to become a “light to the nations”. They had a responsibility and though they were free, God was teaching them to be His servant. Freedom has responsibility and for the Israelites it was to serve God.
Yes, freedom is not only my right and your right but the right and privilege of every human being on earth. However, we must not forget with it comes great responsibility. Not just for ourselves but for our fellow humans as well.
Technology has freed up some of our time, but are we using it wisely and being responsible with our time. Just as the children of Israel had a responsibility, we have the responsibility to use our freedom appropriately.
Hopefully, you enjoyed some time off for Fourth of July activities. Some military men and women paid with their lives so you could still enjoy yours. If you didn’t reflect on what Independence Day really means over the July 4th holiday, stop and do so now. It’s important we remember and that we don’t take our freedoms for granted or let them be trampled.©2017
VICTORIA SIMMONS is an author, columnist, motivational speaker, minister and publisher of The Georgia Post/Byron Buzz. Contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org