Celebrate Freedom!

July 04, 2008

Recorded history focuses on government and spans time by ticking the meter of war. From as early as the Bronze Age, one of the first recorded conflicts arose in Greece, popularly known as the Trojan War. As we study world history, we notice that most wars arose from either greed or confinement. Man rebels when he seeks to conquer more of what lies outside of himself, and also when what abides within him seeks liberation. Similarly, our spiritual selves rebel when we perceive limitation imposed on us by others, or deliberate harm inflicted through violation of boundaries. Our nature, as inhabitants of the earth and spiritual beings, treasures freedom from outside intruders and also from our self-imposed limitations.

What is Freedom?
Ms. Jonell Linskey, an inspirational teacher at my beloved high school (Mercy, Farmington Hills, MI) taught a class in the late 1970s entitled "Future, Freedom, Authority and Death." Wielding her adept teaching skills by allowing each student the joy of discovery, Ms. Linskey posed the question, "What is Freedom?" Class discussion rose from a hesitant, whispered brainstorm of reducing philosophical thought to a mere sentence or even a few words, to the fevered pitch of excitement when reviewing what freedom was not. At one point, the class seemed convinced that to limit the definition of freedom to mere words was to defy the very meaning of the concept. Our patient teacher waited for the discussion to die down and in her quiet way acknowledged she heard our struggles and offered, "Freedom is the ability to choose." More than 30 years later, I remember how deftly she lead us to the simple definition and how much that experience impacted my life. Thank you, Ms. Linskey, for helping me to notice something I'll never-not-notice again!

Apart from incarceration, Americans experience very little limitation in mobility. Contrary to uninformed belief, the United States is not a democracy. The founding fathers created a constitutionally limited republic which provides for free movement and trade between the member states. Citizens need not provide documentation to travel from New Jersey to New Mexico, nor exchange currency. One must also note, neither are citizens prohibited from leaving – we enjoy the freedom to stay or to go. When we reflect on the Declaration of Independence, the authors specifically noted that our rights are "endowed by our Creator" not granted by government. Their wisdom and foresight documented the right to life, liberty and property for all future generations. Yet, as humans, we sometimes defer to the apron strings of confinement by others by means of imploring imposing laws which restrict individual behavior instead of limiting government, as originally intended. We lapse into limitation thinking because we find it difficult to engage in our true freedoms, given by God.

Your own mind
Victor Frankl wrote a book entitled Man's Search for Meaning about his tenure in the Nazi concentration camps. In this book he revealed that the human mind remains free, no matter the outer circumstances. Louise Hay, a gifted writer and spiritual teacher also tells us that we are free to choose whatever thoughts we wish, and that we are the only thinkers in our own mind. Each day on my walk, I initiate my trek by thanking God for allowing me to wake up in my "right mind" today. And so the tone of my day begins.

So many of us engage in war with ourselves regularly. We interpret our outer circumstances as though they define our very being, instead of reflecting that which we choose to think and to which we dedicate our precious energy. Constant inner war drains us and distracts us from evolving into our more sacred selves and lines the shield of defense with layers of self-hatred and negative conditioning. Freeing the mind from self-imposed limitations and restrictions and sowing possibility thinking in the garden of our thoughts, reaps an abundant harvest of creation and opportunity.

Staying free
The freedom to choose includes our thoughts, our citizenship and ultimately the restrictions we endure either by individual, or unfortunately, collective decisions. As often colloquially quoted, 'In a democracy, when two wolves and a sheep meet to decide what's for dinner, the sheep loses.' Be careful not to allow the wolves of limitation to blow down the house of your precious options and reduce freedom to rubble.

Staying free of mind, the invisible and underrated invincible component of our life's energy, proves a battle unto itself. Fruitful observation of the flow of thoughts and ideas and how they fit into who we are and who we aspire to be, creates a chasm between limitation and possibility. No negotiation, barter, trade or contingency exist when looking at the dichotomy of freedom and confinement. Both change and preservation of current conditions, remain steadfast with diligent attention to defensive and offensive coercion to the contrary.

Fill your day with attentive and careful thoughts. When you stand on the side of freedom for your individual sovereignty, you exercise your right to choose.

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