Happy 4th of July

Freedom.  We’ve all seen the emails the past few years about our freedoms as US citizens being taken away.  They started during the “W” years after 9/11, and although they seem to have slowed during the Obama administration, I still get a few, and hear grumblings from acquaintances.  But what exactly is freedom?  Isn’t it a relative term that we each apply to our own lives?

Last night, Greg and I went to an outdoor concert and fireworks display at Nashville Shores. As we stood on the sand beach of Percy Priest Lake watching the fireworks explode in the Nashville sky, I couldn’t help but think about what freedom meant to me. The evening started with a concert by Burning Las Vegas. While we were listening to the concert, my mind was watching all the couples, young and old, that were holding hands on the beach, and especially those that were dancing in the sand. I couldn’t help but wonder what would happen if Greg and I joined the dancing couples in front of the crowd.

When it was time for the fireworks, the park turned off the lights and beach went dark. At first we just stood there watching, occasionally touching each others hand. I put my arm on Greg’s shoulder, and then finally around his shoulders. All the time I was thinking how pathetic this whole scenario was. Why did we have to wait until the beach was pitch black to share even the smallest touch of affection?

There are no laws that state Greg and I can’t hold hands in public. The park didn’t have any posted rules saying we would be kicked out if we held hands on the beach. Today many people probably wouldn’t even notice or care. But there still exists the narrow-minded few that would have been somehow offended, and felt it there obligation to point out we shouldn’t be doing that in public. Those few take away our freedom to express our love for each other.

Freedom isn’t just about the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States, nor the Constitutions of each state. Freedom is also a relative term that must be applied to every individual. When we think about our freedoms being taken away, we have an obligation to think about not only how does this affect me, but also how does it affect our children, our neighbors down the street, the people we work with every day, or the person living a thousand miles away we’ve never met. Each of these people have the right to their individual freedom to be happy in life.

Gay marriage has become a political item these days. States and local governments are scrambling to take a side, and pass laws to support the side they have taken. The Federal government has its head in the sand, hoping they won’t have to make a decision if they wait long enough to allow all 50 states to address the debate locally. The first question you need to ask yourself is why is this even on the political agenda? When did marriage, heterosexual or homosexual, become an item that needed to be debated by lawmakers? Aren’t there more important issues that our governments need to be addressing?

As you celebrate this 4th of July, think about the freedoms you enjoy in this country. Give thanks to the many men and women who have served in the armed forces to protect our freedoms as citizens of the United States. Give thanks to the men and women who pioneered change in this country giving blacks equal rights and women the right to vote. Give thanks that you are free to live where you choose, work where you choose, and worship as you choose, and hopefully love as you choose. But most importantly gives thanks for the freedoms that are relative to your own life.

The challenge moving forward is to remember the 4th of July every day. Remember these freedoms when your friend makes a judgmental statement about another individual; remember these freedoms when a pastor tries to rally support from a congregation; remember these freedoms when your local government tries to enact laws that would violate the freedoms of just one individual; and definitely remember these freedoms on election day. Know who you are voting for, and decide if they will cast their votes for the politically popular, or if they will vote to support the freedoms of every individual they represent.

I hope you and yours have a wonderful 4th of July!

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