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Thoughts on Freedom for Independence Day
July 1, 2019
This week Americans celebrate and remember the pivotal date of July 4, 1776 when the Declaration of Independence founded the United States as an independent nation and established that every person has inherent rights. As Americans, we cherish the words from the Declaration of Independence — “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.”
As we observe Independence Day, we are reminded how fortunate we are to live in a land that upholds the concept of liberty or freedom. Most Americans value their freedom to vote as they choose or to own property, for example.
In a 1941 message to Congress, President Franklin D. Roosevelt expounded on the idea of freedom by identifying the Four Essential Human Freedoms: Freedom of Speech and Expression; Freedom to Worship God in Your Own Way; Freedom from Want; and Freedom from Fear.
These freedoms are a gift that not everyone in the world experiences. However, we can also think of freedom in terms of how each individual – no matter where they are in the world – relates to his or her environment.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau, an 18
century French philosopher, observed that, “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains.” Rousseau was referring to oppressive societal rules as well as mental chains that restrict what we believe we can do. Modern-day philosophers see this as the freedom ‘from,’ the freedom ‘to,’ and the freedom ‘to be.’
Freedom ‘from’ is the ability to live without unnecessary constraints. Freedom ‘to’ is the ability to make self-directed choices about our lives. Lastly, freedom ‘to be’ is the ability to become the person we were meant to be in God’s eyes, following our own path to that end.
It’s true that by living in this great nation, our ability to pursue our own path in life is one of our greatest freedoms. What freedoms are important to you? We encourage you to cherish and celebrate those freedoms this Independence Day.
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