Today America celebrates its independence as a nation, and all Americans celebrate their freedom to live as they choose. The words independence and freedom, by definition, allow us as individuals and citizens of America to choose how to live. How freeing! But is freedom always free?
"It has been said by some physicians, that life is a forced state. The same may be said of freedom. It requires efforts, it presupposes mental and moral qualities of a high order to be generally diffused in the society where it exists." [John C. Calhoun, speech, U.S. House of Representatives, Jan. 31, 1816] What is he saying? After all, doesn't freedom imply laissez faire, or carte blanche to do whatever we want? Does our society expect something more from us? Should we expect more from ourselves? Is John Calhoun correct in his assertion that while we are free to choose our path, making choices that are morally and mentally sound may be key to our freedom as individuals and as a people?
What then will serve as our compass, to ensure we will be free? John Calhoun's words may contain the answer, as he says freedom "presupposes mental and moral qualities," which suggests we look not only to our minds, but also to our hearts. When we let our hearts be our guides, we will generally make choices reflecting love, which will lead us to a moral, and therefore, free place for all.
Freedom is an awesome gift - use it lovingly and joy will follow. Happy Independence Day!
author of "JOY"