Sunday, July 5, 2009

Independence Day

For one of the world's most famous revolutions, I will mention two points that I have always pondered about those who have "granted us our freedoms". This goes for any Independence Day, of any country.

First and foremost, I am not one to believe that those who fought for the freedoms that we enjoy today did so because they were more concerned about me, living hundreds of years after them.

I think they were more concerned about themselves, and rightfully so. I think you would be a fool not to be. After all, you are the one having to live with a tyrant, not me - a person not yet even born centuries later!

Certainly, future generations were considered. I think that is only natural. But to fight in a revolution ONLY for future generations...? I find that to be unrealistic and the result of an idealized, high school History lesson. These men had their own lives to contend with and I have no doubt that those lives were the main reason for their fight of freedom, with our lives existing hundreds of years later, being a secondary consideration.

Secondly, I think it is incorrect to assume that I did not have freedom until they gave it to me. I come to this conclusion from one, simple question: Who owns freedom?

What gives governments ownership of freedom? What gives revolutionaries ownership of freedom? What gives constitutions ownership of freedom?

Nothing actually gives any of those entities ownership of freedom. Freedom is owned by no one.

Governments, revolutionaries, and constitutions do not own freedom. Neither do you nor I. Nothing owns freedom. No one commands it. No one rations it out. It is limitless and does no one's bidding. The moment I choose to be free, I am.

I need no permission to think what I want to think, to say what I want to say, to own what I want to own, to go where I want to go, or to do what I want to do, until I begin to infringe upon someone else doing the same thing.

Contrary to popular, idolized (but misunderstood) belief, freedom IS free. It comes with no price other than my choice to follow that path. No one gives it to me. It gives itself to me, when I allow it to. I am the only person who can grant me freedom.

The confusion sets in, I think, because there IS always some asshole out there who is going to try to prevent me and you from making that choice because he or she focuses on the external, compensating for their weak internal focus, whether it's a neighborhood bully or the king of a nation. Those who have given their lives for the freedoms I enjoy today prevented this from happening as much as possible.

Simply put, they did not give me freedom. They made it easier for me to make this choice - a choice I can make regardless of circumstance (though harder for me to do under some circumstances, which they have made easier for me) - a choice that exists outside of their control and ownership - a choice that only I can make.

For this, I honor them.

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