I hope your Independence Day weekend is filled with the five F's of a great Fourth of July holiday: Family, Friends, Fun, Food and Fireworks. But, More than any of those. I hope it's filled with a soul-deep appreciation of another F.
I hope your appreciation extends deeper than an inspirational Facebook or Instagram post. I hope it's more lasting than a patriotic profile picture. I hope it means more than thankfulness for a shorter work week and a cold beer. I hope it's sweeter than that dessert you shouldn't have another helping of.
Freedom is a multi-layered concept and it doesn't mean what our culture sometimes believes it to mean.
Freedom is not a pound-your-chest, prideful statement. Freedom is a privilege, one that requires character to use wisely.
Freedom is not an excuse for inexcusable behavior. And, It's not the license to do whatever you want. Freedom offers the ability and the responsibility to do the right thing.
Freedom is not the ability to say whatever you choose. Freedom is the ability to choose to speak that which empowers, builds up, creates justice or mercy...whether or not others agree with you.
Freedom is not empowerment. Empowerment can come from from within, from authority or because you hold a position of strength. Freedom is the ability to choose your destiny.
Freedom is not entitlement. It's not the right to have or experience whatever you want. Freedom is the ability to choose to create a life you desire.
Freedom is not a never-ending stream of rights, it's your right to sovereignty over your own life.
Freedom is never free. It's always purchased and paid for, in our case, by someone else. Let that sink in. Another generation paid for your freedom with their sacrifice of family, business, safety, comfort and lives.
Freedom is not a black and white concept, not an absolute. There are degrees of freedom. It's is a relative concept. Our struggle is to find ways to maximize individual freedom while living in a cooperative society under the rule of law.
Freedom is the heartbeat of the refugee and the immigrant.
Freedom is the dream of oppressed peoples everywhere.
You have this dream, so desperately coveted by those who don't have it. They will fight, die, sacrifice their livelihood and their lives to obtain it for themselves and their families.
You live this reality they'd die for. Don't take that lightly.
Obtaining freedom and living in freedom, neither are not for the faint of heart. So, cherish that which you have and treat it as a precious gift, but use it wisely and frequently.
In the artwork this week is a figure. You might think that he's embracing freedom, and he is. His arms are outstretched to welcome all that freedom brings. In the United States, we think of freedom so often in terms of the Red, White and Blue. And our nation and therefore our colors do certainly represent it. But if you look more closely, there are lots of other colors in that image. Greens, Yellows, Browns, Purples...we in this country don't have a monopoly on freedom. But what we have is ours to share, both within and outside of our borders.
But, the figure isn't only embracing freedom. He's upholding it. The constitution supports his arms in a firm foundation, but the weight of freedom rests on him. It's his responsibility. Ronald Reagan said, "Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same."
What if you truly understood and appreciated the gift of freedom you've been given? What would you do with it?
Have a very happy Independence Day, my friends!
Want to process the ideas in this podcast further? Download the Coffee Talk Worksheet or put this week's art on your phone: Episode 39 Downloads