On the 4th of July most of us celebrate National Barbecue Day (yes, it is an actual holiday), but few of us focus on the ideal of freedom and the responsibility that comes with it. Many people see it as the right to do whatever they want, no matter the consequence. However, it’s important to remember that every action, good or bad, has consequences.
First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt eloquently said:
“Freedom makes a huge requirement of every human being. With freedom comes responsibility. For the person who is unwilling to grow up, the person who does not want to carry his own weight, this is a frightening prospect.”
We all know people who though they were free to do whatever they wanted no matter what it meant for those who were impacted by their choices. Some examples of these self-serving people include: Enron’s CEO Jeff Skilling and CFO Andrew Fastow; Charles Manson; Adolf Hitler; Richard Nixon; the Tuskegee syphilis experiment investigators; parents who beat their children; drunk drivers; and slave owners. Too many people do whatever they want with total disregard for others.
Freedom has to be tempered by equality – another ideal that defines this country. It establishes a necessary boundary that must be respected because equality provides for fairness and justice. It shapes freedom and protects it for everyone. The boundary of equality creates the opportunity for everyone to share in the right to freedom. Without equality we can never have true freedom for all.
This year, celebrate freedom and equality. Stand against anyone who wants to abuse freedom for selfish gain. Don’t be apathetic – hold onto freedom tightly. Understand the responsibility that comes with it and value the fairness and justice of equality. This is the best way to honor the people who laid the foundation for our freedom by declaring our independence.
Celebrate the 4th of July with family, parades, fireworks and lots of delicious food. Celebrate the day by lowering flags to half-mast in honor of the men and women who lost their lives to protect our freedom. Celebrate the day with awareness, respect and consideration for the right of everyone to be free. And, as stated by Martin Luther King:
“…when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”