Freedom is not easy.
Freedom is not easy. It’s very simple, but not easy at all. Freedom is all-inclusive, constantly adding on, encompassing everything and anything. Freedom involves broad perspective; it involves a wide field of view that connects the myriads of the world together. Freedom is unrestrictive in every sense of the word. Freedom is about choice, having every possibility and then choosing from amongst those. America is the land of the free, and as the nation on Earth representative of freedom, this is what we need to know and this is how we need to be.
And because freedom embodies potentiality of all kinds, bad things can happen. You may have heard of the philosopher’s Problem of Evil before. In a nutshell, it states that God is all good, God is all knowing, God is all powerful, and yet bad things happen. This is a logical problem that has spanned centuries, if not millennia, tackled by some of the brightest minds and greatest religions in history. I’m not even going to try and pretend I’ve solved the problem; instead, I’d like to give you my thoughts on why this problem exists.
Without going too far down the rabbit hole, because religion is a separate issue, let me say it thusly: freedom is the answer to the Problem of Evil. One could say my thoughts are similar to those of Alan Plantinga’s, who said that “free will” is the logical refute to the problem.1 Free will and freedom provide choice, and choice is what makes evil possible. For good to exist, evil must also exist; knowing one half of a moral spectrum is to know of the other half. But it is our freedom that allows us to choose which path we go down, which aspect of ourselves we feed and allow to prosper. Human beings have been given a gift, the gift of freedom and choice. To refute the Problem of Evil, we need to change perspective and expand awareness, we need to be more free in order to understand the how’s and why’s of it all. With understanding comes acceptance, and with acceptance comes happiness.
To really be free, in my opinion, is to embrace happiness to the fullest. Remember, we’ve been granted certain unalienable Rights by our Creator, amongst which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Being alive, being free, and embracing the other unalienable Rights I spoke of- namely love, honor, and humor- push us fully down the path of happiness which, at the end of the day, is what all of us really want. Whether it’s money, power, sex, cars, boats, picnics, walks on the beach, a Super Bowl championship, or anything, we act in the pursuit of happiness… or what we think happiness may be.
I say “what we think happiness may be” because, in my opinion, happiness is not material. Nor is it about power or control. Those are abstractions that, when removed, can remove happiness. Thus, real happiness, to me, transcends all of that. It exists in richness and in poverty; it can even be maintained between the two extremes. Happiness… is a prolonged state of joy and acceptance, a way in which we exist cherishing everything and anything, without restriction, without oppression, and without malice.
Simple… but not easy. As simple as everyone in the entire world saying those words, realizing them fully, and then acting upon them. Super simple, no? But not easy. It’s the difficulty of the task which haunts us, the evil and restrictive choices we make that keep us from really being free. Instead of expanding awareness and accepting the situations and experiences, we try to mold them, shape them, use our own perspective in order to fit the world into our own boxed reality, a reality that can be as big or as small as we choose. How do you know if your reality is small? That’s when you feel there is nothing more to learn, feel, experience, and become aware of in this existence of ours, an existence full of both wonder and horror.
It is precisely those horrors that would seek to do us in, that would destroy our freedoms in the name of false promise and false hope. They offer an illusion, a temptation that asks us to be less free, less aware, less accepting, and less happy. Horror may even threaten our lives or the lives of those we love. This is terrorism, terrorism striving for power, to kill the freedom of acceptance and harmony and replace it with restriction and control.
I refuse to let such power grabbing and control take a hold over this country any more. But, in order for me to do so, in order for we, the people, to truly embrace this freedom that America and its forefathers offer us, we must understand one key tenant to the concept.
Freedom requires sacrifice.
The sacrifice may be small, maybe holding the door for someone as a gesture of kindness which, in turn, brings them happiness for a moment in exchange for 15 seconds of your time. Or maybe it will involve sacrificing an evening out to give a friend or family member a shoulder to cry on. Maybe it will be understanding that a front desk operator of a hospital only has so much information, no matter how angry you might be at a doctor or the insurance company, thus causing you to sacrifice yelling and screaming at the poor soul. Or maybe you’re that front desk operator and realize the person on the phone is bitching you out because they’re angry at something else, not yourself, thus causing you to sacrifice anger or resentment towards them and offer them support by being yelled at, only to discard it as soon as the call ends. Again, a simple idea not easy to achieve.
Or maybe the sacrifice is huge. Pushing someone out of harm’s way to take the pain yourself, rushing into a burning building, or stepping in front of a belligerent group to protect a complete stranger from potential harm. You may sacrifice blood, sweat, tears, bone, even your life to help preserve happiness and freedom. We see this every day in the form of our brave men and women in uniform. Law enforcement, fire fighters, military members, and more. Over the last 15 years, tens of thousands of Americans have sacrificed their lives to protect our freedoms, to protect America and what it represents in the War on Terror. Thousands more made that sacrifice over the history of our nation, be it at home or abroad. They sacrificed for our unalieanable Rights: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Sacrifice is made in the face of insurmountable odds to give us a chance to maximize freedoms and Rights granted us by our Creator, Rights that are all-encompassing, all accepting, all caring, and meant to keep pushing humanity in the pursuit of happiness.
My job if elected would be to make this happen. And I’m sorry to say, America, that if I am elected, bad things will still happen. If I’m elected, Americans will still die.
That is the sacrifice required for our freedom. Not just of those folks in uniform, but of all of us. Freedom means finding the eternity that exists in each and every moment. Find that eternity and pursue the happiness within through the infinite possibilities available. Grab hold of what you love. And then honor everyone else attempting the same thing. Honor them, respect them, help them, for no one ever knows when this miracle of life granted us may end. This is the sacrifice we make, the sacrifice of ourselves to keep our nations’ ideals alive. I truly, with all my heart do not wish to see any more of our service folk lose their lives. I don’t. But trust me, America, I am courageous enough to let it happen if it means preserving this country’s freedom. They are some of the most courageous individuals on the face of the planet, stepping forward to serve their country and the ideals it represents, to serve and protect our unalienable Rights- hell, to protect humanity as a whole.
For this is what we are, America: land of the free, home of the brave. That is what we are, that is what we represent. It takes a hell of a lot of bravery to be free, to see and embrace all potentiality put forth on Earth by our Creator. Bravery and the courage to do what is right when it comes to humanity and our Rights to life, liberty, love, honor, humor, and the pursuit of happiness. Our military’s life commitment to our nation should not ever be undermined or under-appreciated. Their sacrifice requires ridiculous levels of bravery which I would see honored however it can in seeking to protect our Rights and freedoms.
To me, America’s freedom is a symbol. It remains untarnished in the face of words and expression we may not like, things protected by our First Amendment which include the burning of the flag. We may not like or agree with the words or actions expressed under this protection, but it is there due to freedom, freedom that we all have as Americans and that we all deserve as living, breathing, respected human beings. Our nation’s freedom is a symbol. It cannot be tainted but mere words, nor can it be destroyed with one death, a hundred deaths, a thousand or even a million. It is our freedoms and the securing of our rights and liberties which serve as a beacon of light and hope throughout the world, a beacon meant to inspire those under oppressive regimes. I will not sacrifice our rights and freedoms, I will not diminish our nation’s light for security. You may be scared of what might happen in the future, and rightfully so. The world is a scary place with potential for sickness, death, and other bad things to happen. That’s why we must be brave and vigilant and maintain perspective. Our forefathers reminded us of our unalienable Rights for a reason, so that we would realize that life, liberty, love, honor, and humor are all requirements in the pursuit of happiness. The path to happiness is not one of fear and distrust. It is one that acknowledges potentiality, adjusts itself accordingly, and remains focused on what’s important: life, liberty, love, honor, humor, and being happy.
(1) See Plantinga's essay "The Free Will Defense" in Philosophy of Religion: An Anthology by Louis Pojman and Michael Rea.