On Freedom

July 14 2016

Greetings from Washington, DC, USA, on the Fourth of July. It seems fitting today to share a few reflections on liberty, or what I think it means to be free of external control.

The bedrocks are the freedom to speak your mind; freedom to worship or not worship as you please; freedom to pursue the calling or career of your choosing; freedom to love whom you want, when you want; freedom generally to do as you like, so long as you don't harm others. We celebrate these basic freedoms while recognizing that not everyone enjoys them today, with the hope that they will be shared more universally in the future.

I also think of freedom in other ways. Freedom means having the flexibility to structure your day as you please. It is a luxury to be free in this way, as many of us are forced to adapt to a schedule we don't fully control, whether for commuting, or running errands, or caring for others. If your life allows you to avoid rush hour, count yourself among the blessed.

Freedom means the ability to teach your values to your children, but also the choice to reject traditions or dogma that you don't like. Maybe that means disagreeing with your parents, or with your children. There is tension in embracing both sides.

Freedom also comes from the absence of negativity. How many of us lack control over our thoughts about the past (regret, guilt, what-ifs, etc), the future (anxiety, stress), or other people (for example, unnecessarily harsh, rash judgments of strangers who happen to be bad drivers). It is truly freeing when those emotions are gone. But it's not easy, and for me it's an ongoing project to live in the present, look upon others without judgment, and minimize the internal negativity.

The instant gratification of technology exerts its own form of control. So when it comes to our phones, freedom means the security to put them away when in the company of friends, or when driving.

I hope you are able to celebrate your freedoms. And that you can live to make yourself, and others, more free. If any of this resonates with you, or if you'd like to share your view of freedom, you can reach me at [email protected] I will keep your message in confidence.


Andrew
[email protected]
Washington, DC


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