What is Freedom?

We must be free not because we claim freedom, but because we practice it.  William Faulkner

On this long weekend, those of us in the United States celebrate Independence Day.  We celebrate with ball games, picnics and fireworks.  We spend time with family and friends.  To some this just a long weekend away from work, but to all of us it should mean a time to celebrate and reflect on freedom and patriotism.

Our forefathers established this union to give people freedom – freedom to express our opinions, freedom for religion and other ideals.  On this Independence Day, I went back to a newsletter I did for a group of cruisers back in 2005.  That was the biggest group I had ever been a part of on a Disney Cruise.  We met a lot of wonderful people and developed some life-long friendships.  Very few of us had met before and nearly all of us had only met each other online.  I had never imagined that I would make so many friends all over the world.

Since that cruise in 2005, I have continued to meet many more people online and cruised with them.  We have also started getting together with these friends at Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Indianapolis, Chicago and various other spots.  I cherish the friends that I have made and am so thankful that I am free to be friends with all of them.

Is freedom really free though?  We all are given rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, but not all of us have the same experiences and possessions.  Some people do feel that their rights are more important than those of others, and I respectfully disagree.  We all have the same rights, the difference is what we do with those rights.  I personally do what I can to make myself a better person all the time, either by education or helping others.  It’s what we all should do to make this great country an even better place to live.  No one has more rights than another here.  We all need to respect each other and live together.  When we don’t, freedom breaks down.  We therefore, must have limitations.  We cannot take our freedoms for granted.

Here are some of my favorite quotes on freedom.

Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves.  Abraham Lincoln

I hope I shall possess firmness and virtue enough to maintain what I consider the most enviable of all titles, the character of an honest man.  George Washington

Honesty is the first chapter of the book of wisdom.  Thomas Jefferson

A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both.  Dwight D. Eisenhower

It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.  Harry S. Truman

Each man must for himself alone decide what is right and what is wrong, which course is patriotic and which isn’t.  You cannot shirk this and be a man.  To decide against your conviction is to be an unqualified and excusable traitor, both to yourself and to your country, let men label you as they may.  Mark Twain

He that would make his own liberty secure, must guard even his enemy from opposition; for if he violates this duty he establishes a precedent that will reach himself.  Thomas Paine

On this Independence Day, I ask that each of you take a look at your freedoms and your liberty.  It is up to us to make sure this country and our world is a better place to live.  We all need to do our part.

Freedom is nothing else but a chance to be better.  Albert Camus

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