This question may seem to have an obvious answer--"Freedom!", right? But today, when I woke up I found myself wondering about this bigger picture: How do we actually celebrate freedom? What are we freed from? And what are we freed for? To support our best effort at a really meaningful celebration this Fourth of July, I decided just to share some thoughts with you. Hey, it's a free country, right?
If you've lived in the U.S.A. you're entire life as I have, the experience of July 4th is not usually spent pondering existential questions like those above. The Holiday may involve feeling brief moments of gratitude for our freedoms in the U.S. But it's usually more focused on the simple joys of hanging out with friends and family, grilling burgers, roasting Smores, all hopefully topped off by leaning back in lawn chairs to a chorus of "Oooh", then "Ahhh" as great fireworks erupt above us. Sounds good to me!
I would hope that everyone can experience this kind of holiday today. Of course, for the portion of the 9-1-1 Family left on duty to take care of the rest of us, it's just another very long day at the comm center dealing with even more than the usual console chaos. You deserve a big-time Thank You for serving! While you may miss out on the fireworks tonight, I figured you can at least join me in the heart of our celebration...
So here's my point. Surely, I've been fortunate to share great moments during past July 4th celebrations, when the explosions of beautiful fireworks filled the sky and powerfully punctuated the melodies of our most patriotic songs; and I thanked God for all the blessings we've received. But this year, I just felt the need to reflect a little more deeply on those key questions above, as a way of remembering and deepening my gratitude for our freedom...
What are we freed from?
In the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson outlined 27 points of King George's tyrannical rule from which our Founding Fathers insisted they must be freed. I'll let the ambitious among you click on this link to read all 27. Jefferson's 27 points can be summed in three easy-to read groups of complaints about the King:
He established a tyrannical authority in place of representative government (Reasons 1-12).
He involved parliament in destroying the colonists’ right to self-rule (Reasons 13 – 22).
He took specific actions to abandon the colonies and to wage war against them (Reasons 23 – 27). *
It is from this tyranny that our Founding Fathers declared the need for our colonies to be free:
When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
What we're Freed For
Irrespective of your political leanings, if you're an American who cares about our country, it is easy, amidst so much that is wrong and ugly in our current politics, to get discouraged and cynical about our nation. But in the midst of all our problems, I'm encouraged by remembering that our democracy, as flawed as it is, offers each of us the best promise of an extraordinary opportunity to live in decent conditions, work for a fair wage, love our families in peace, and to serve our communities, our country, and the world in need. My prayer is that those in less fortunate circumstances who can't yet fully enjoy these benefits of freedom, will soon; and that we may live each day together with gratitude, in service to each other and to this remarkable freedom. This is what we're freed for.
God bless you, and HAPPY JULY FOURTH!