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Freedom is ultimately the sustained will and enabling grace to obey God. Any other definition seems inadequate to me of late. As our morally crumbling society continues to grasp for “freedom,” “tolerance,” and “authenticity,” I inwardly cringe under the misuse and vacuous weight of what those words carry in meaning to our culture. The song Me and Bobby McGee sung by Janice Joplin and written by Kris Kristofferson may blurt out that “freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose,” but I know better. That may be cleaver nihilism, but it’s an insane directive.
Is freedom the right to self destruct? No, that is the power of death in motion. Is freedom the vote of the majority? No, that is the manifest product of their social and moral education. Is freedom the right to make a fool of yourself for money? No, that’s the culture rewarding those who are manifesting their own slide into depravity. Perhaps freedom is “let one do as they will.” No, that’s permissive indifference to another human being’s stupidity or ignorance, or both. Indeed, what does freedom look like?
It looks often like silence. A recognition that a hasty answer or action may well punish others and ourselves with unintended consequences. Sometimes freedom looks like doing nothing when others are busy doing something. It may look like fear. Yes, it is fear of God and fear of a single action that can affect others for the entirety of their lives. Freedom may look like “just getting by” when you could have more if you would, but choose not to risk or leverage into debt what you already have. Freedom for sure looks like smiling later for what you may have solemnly sacrificed for back when.
Is America “the land of the free and the home of the brave?” Certainly some of its citizens have embodied this ideal, though it has always been a land of contradictions and startling dissonance. The intent of our Bill of Rights versus the reality of slavery serves as a stark example of this. In truth, numerous issues have been slow to catch up with our magnificent dreams. As nations go, we surely hold some attributes that make us exceptional. But are we free? Some are… most probably are not. One thing is sure: the way our culture is presently defining freedom, we will have a whole lot less of it in the future if we aren’t interrupted. And that is… THE BOTTOM LINE.