Thursday, January 5, 2012

COMMON SENSE: Thoughts on Freedom

The United States of America.

Land of the Free. 
(Void Where Prohibited.)
Home of the Brave. 
(Certain restrictions apply.)

I've done my best to stay off of the political bandwagon because I despise politics, but watching these Republican candidates speak makes me absolutely sick with grief for the future of our country.

Before you dismiss what I have to say, know this: I am not a Democrat, I am not a supporter of any particular administration or ideal, I'm speaking as a person who, like so many of us, takes for granted the thing that this country was founded on.

I hear over and over again how important freedom is, how we've fought for it, and how we must continue to fight for it because it is a fundamental human right. And yet, I begin to wonder if most people understand what the word freedom means.

Definition provided by
free·dom - [free-duhm] - noun
1. the state of being free  or at liberty rather than in confinement or under physical restraint
2. exemption from external control, interference, regulation, etc.
3. the power to determine action without restraint.
4. political or national independence.
5. personal liberty, as opposed to bondage or slavery: a slave who bought his freedom.

As I listen to the rhetoric of the ideals that candidates are running on, I have to ask: Are you serious? Are we really running on a platfom of prayer and Christianity? Is this the basis for what you want to bring to the White House? While some of you are saying, "Of course! What's wrong with people bringing the convictions of their faith into office? Why can't people be free to express their religion? What's wrong with telling a few people they're wrong for what they believe?"

"Wait, what?", you say. "I don't support public officials who want to tell me what I should believe."

And yet, each and every time these people stand in front of a microphone that is exactly what they are saying. They want to bring their religious ideals into government, make laws based on their dogmatic beliefs rather than fact, turn your government into the very thing it was created to prevent.

The United States Constitution is one of the most remarkable documents on the planet. It has guided this country for over two hundred years. Most of us in this country stand by its ideals, its guarantees because we believe in the strength of these words:

"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

When the founding fathers created this living, breathing document they did so with a Declaration. A statement to those countries they vowed to leave behind. A loud and clear call for a country that relied not on the beliefs of one person or group, but on the strength and character of all people regardless of their nationality or religious creed. They made a stand against the ideas of state sponsored religion so that all people could be free to worship and practice their faith in whatever manner they chose. They did this with these words:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

I ask you this: Do you still believe in these words? These fundamental ideals that gave birth to the country you call home today? Can you honestly say that freedom includes denying people the very things you claim to hold dear?

If we truly believe in freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and all the other freedoms we are guaranteed then we cannot place limitations on them. To do this would only undermine the very nature of freedom itself.

Our founding forefathers knew the dangers of allowing any one religious organization or group to begin making laws based solely on their religious beliefs. If a candidate stood on the stage and spouted off that they believe jeans are an abomination and should be banned from being worn, you'd boo them off the stage. And yet you cheer when a person stands up there and says that two people who love each other should not abe allowed, that women do not have the right to chose their own beliefs about their body, that children should be forced to acknowledge only one religion in the world. That's not freedom. That's not liberty. And it certainly doesn't pursue the happiness of our nation. You can't accept freedom only if it agrees with your ideals any more than I can tell someone they can't agree with my position.

Take a step back and examine what you truly believe in. Are you truly speaking the words of God? Do you seriously think that if Jesus were to return today he would stand up on a stage and say the things these people are saying?

I'm not supporting Christian ideals or beliefs, I use these things as an example because it is Christian ideals that are being portrayed as the only true ideals in this country and that should make a lot of people angry. Very angry.

What about the Muslims, Buddhists, Catholics, Jewish, Mormon, Atheists, and the other hundreds of religions that our Constitution protects. Do they all agree with these ideals? With limiting people's freedoms? That it's ok that their religious beliefs are being overstepped by Christian values? Just because a group is larger, doesn't give them the right to step on others' beliefs, to take away people's life, liberty, and happiness because it's against what they believe.

I'm not against the opportunity for children to exercise their right to pray if they so chose in schools, at sporting events, or any other public forum, but that same right should exist for those that chose not to. People shouldn't feel pressured or uncomfortable because they don't share a particular custom or belief.

If you truly want to claim that you love freedom and everything this country stands for, then at least know what it means to be free. Because every person who was born in this country, or has come here from their own has done so to enjoy "the state of being free or at liberty rather than in confinement or under physical restraint, to be exempt from external control, interference, regulation, to have the power to determine action without restraint, to enjoy political or national independence and personal liberty." This is the definition of freedom.

It doesn't come with chains.

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