Posted by: Phil Anderson | July 5, 2015

What to Do with Freedom

This weekend the United States celebrated Independence Day, the anniversary of the day our forefathers declared themselves independent from British rule. In the 239 years since that declaration, America has come to be known as of the “Land of the Free.” But what does that really mean?

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As the audio-animatronic version of Abraham Lincoln said in his famous speech at the 1964 World’s Fair (and later at Disneyland): “The world has never had a good definition of the word ‘liberty’ and the American people just now are much in want of one. We all declare for liberty, but in using the same word, we do not all mean the same thing.”

Freedom is not just a license for each person to do what he or she wants. That’s anarchy and it leads to chaos. The United States has a system of laws that govern its citizens, so we are not (in the broadest sense) totally free. But the reach of those laws is limited by the Bill of Rights, and we have a system in place by which we elect those who create and enact the laws. So in essence we are free to choose the limitations of our freedom.

Last week I shared a parable about storybook characters who didn’t want to follow the outline their creator had set out for them. In choosing their own path and destiny, they missed out on the “happily ever after” they should have had.

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Throughout history, most of humankind has been subject to those few who are stronger, more powerful, or more influential. As Loki said in The Avengers: “It’s the unspoken truth of humanity that you crave subjugation. The bright lure of freedom diminishes your life’s joy in a mad scramble for power, for identity. You were made to be ruled. In the end, you will always kneel.” This is most obvious politically, but is also evident ideologically. Everything we think, say, or do demonstrates the religious creed, political agenda, philosophy, or world-view to which we subjugate ourselves or choose to follow.

So is there such a thing as real freedom? In the end, I believe our freedom is the ability to choose whom we will serve. Will you serve yourself and your own desires? Will you choose to submit to the greater good of humankind? Or will you follow the guidelines set forth by your creator?

What do you think freedom is? What will you do with your freedom? Leave your comments below and start a conversation.

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