“The cost of freedom is always high; one path we shall never choose… is the path of surrender, or submission.” ~ John F. Kennedy
On this Memorial Day, we are reminded of all the individuals who have come before us that have provided, fought for, and protected the freedoms that we all enjoy today. Make no mistake, freedom comes at a price. From the days of the Revolutionary War through to the battles we fight to preserve them today, our personal freedoms have come at the cost of many, many lives and have involved thousands more who have made a commitment to preserve, defend, and maintain them. To those people who have served in this quest – I honor and thank you.
Freedom is an interesting word. I am certain that if we tried to find a definition for it, we could all come up with a version that works for us. I chose to let Wikipedia manage the definition of freedom – “Freedom is the absence of restraints upon our ability to think and act.” Under this definition, freedom is an unconstrained opportunity to explore our thoughts, ideas, beliefs, and values. That is how freedom resonates with me.
The challenges associated with freedom is that it allows everyone to explore, live and express their beliefs even those that may be in direct confrontation and conflict with mine. This is not to say that the universally accepted rules of human existence – murder, destruction of personal property, stealing, etc.—get thrown out the window. However, many of the other freedoms we expect to enjoy in our way must be granted to others who have the same freedoms to enjoy theirs, as well.
Freedom is a wonderful and dangerous word. Freedom is a choice, it is a right, it is a responsibility; but it is also a consideration. Freedom is something that we have the right to enjoy and celebrate in our lives, while allowing others the same luxury without imposition.
On this Memorial Day celebration, remember to celebrate those freedoms that you enjoy every single day. Celebrate your freedom to choose where you live, where you work, how to express your opinions and beliefs, and how you live the values that define who you are. Then, be mindful of those who have their freedom to celebrate their values, beliefs, and being even though they may be in conflict with yours. Finally, remember that each of us has been granted these universal freedoms through their commitment and dedication to preserving them. Do their sacrifice the honor it deserves by remembering what true freedom is by respecting the differences and points of conflict that freedom can bring. Open your eyes, your hearts, and your minds to the gift, the cost, and the conflicts associated with freedom and celebrate our opportunity to appreciate it and live with it. And, be grateful that we have the freedom and the ability to do this.