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Posts Tagged ‘Freedom’

Merriam-Webster defines offend as: “to cause (a person or group) to feel hurt, angry, or upset by something said or done”.  Over the past few months, you saw stories of Christmas being “banned” from a variety of public places – Christmas trees being re-labeled as Holiday trees, and many stores and businesses afraid to even say Merry Christmas.  All of this in the name of being sensitive to others – not to offend people.  What is it specifically about Christmas that hurts someone, makes someone feel angry, or upsets them?  Does the celebration or observance of the “birth” of a historical figure upset you, hurt you, make you feel angry?  Is it the deeper meaning of what this observance stands for – that a large number of people believe this historical figure is the Son of God?  Merriam-Webster goes on to further define offend as:  “to be unpleasant to (someone or something)”.  Could all the decorations that have become a tradition of Christmas be unpleasant?  Or could it be this alternative meaning: “to do wrong : to be against what people believe is acceptable or proper”.  I’m certain this version might apply – that someone who does not believe in what Christmas stands for finds all of this celebrating unacceptable or improper.

One of the fabulous things about America is our freedom – our ability to live our lives as we choose, believe what we want to.  OK – but there is some framework around this freedom – the laws that a free society agrees upon to keep order – like not stealing , killing, etc.  For the most part, these laws follow from a set of morals passed on by tradition.  Our Bill of Rights outlines what our founding fathers found important enough, creating this document to support our freedom.  Freedom allows us to believe in and celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or nothing.  I choose to be a Christian (Episcopalian) and celebrate Christmas (and other religious “feast” days).  I celebrate in private or with a congregation – and I may decorate my home with lights in December.  I do this because I live in a country that provides me the  freedom to do so.  I do NOT do this to hurt, anger, or upset anyone.  If someone is hurt, angered, or upset by this, then they have chosen to be upset – yes, chosen to be.  Now – if you  attempt to ban some celebration because someone is choosing to be offended – then you are interfering in my right to free expression of religion – you are suppressing freedom!

Oh – but what about separation of Church and state – you can’t celebrate Christmas in a public school – or in a public square…. Lawyers and legal scholars will argue what our first amendment really intended – and the lawyer who can explain this in the most elegant manner might convince us this really means you really shouldn’t pray before a local government meeting, or the ten commandments shouldn’t be posted in a school – but if you read the words:

From Wikipedia:  “The First Amendment (Amendment I) to the United States Constitution prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion, impeding the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering with the right to peaceably assemble or prohibiting the petitioning for a governmental redress of grievances. It was adopted on December 15, 1791, as one of the ten amendments that comprise the Bill of Rights.”

Prohibits the making of any law – either respecting an establishment of religion – or – impeding the free exercise of religion.  How does a prayer said before a government meeting violate this?  What law was made?  The founding fathers did not want a repeat of the control the Church of England had over the government.  It also provides all of us the right to be free to exercise our religious beliefs.

America – as a melting pot of many cultures should rise above the fray and embrace ALL of the richness we as a country are blessed with.  I personally enjoy learning about other cultures, religions and the traditions that accompany them.  I am not offended by someone who embraces a different belief – it expands me as a human being to learn about other traditions and beliefs – it does not offend me.  It also doesn’t change what I believe. I imagine that many people who are either for or against Christmas celebrations even understand how these traditions came about – about the origins of Christmas celebrations – or even about how our current celebrations were “created” in America.  For the curious – here’s a link to a relatively brief history lesson on Christmas.

I am offended when someone purposefully tries to hurt me – physically –  in the name of their religion or belief, as we all should be.  However,  people who are quick to choose being “offended” by a Christmas song should instead, try this, (Merriam-Webster helps out again): Respect, “to act in a way which shows that you are aware of (someone’s rights, wishes, etc.)”  Let’s respect others beliefs – but not at the sacrifice of our own.  Let us embrace the richness of our diversity and celebrate our freedom.  Let us share our cultures and traditions – not to change, but to understand.  Let us be open and learn – especially with our children – and not shut them out – don’t make understanding others beliefs taboo.

Let’s make 2014 the year of Respect!

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This post is being “penned” on Veteran’s Day, which also coincides this year with 11-11-11 (not really that big a deal people!).  I wanted to say thanks to my Dad, who served in the Navy during WWII, my father-in-law who served in the Navy for more than 20 years protecting our country, and all those who served in the armed forces and their families.

Why, as a peace-loving Nation, do we find ourselves in the midst of wars?  I talked a bit yesterday about freedom – and freedom is precisely why at times, war is a necessity.  There are ideologies in this world, that unfortunately what to destroy our freedom.  An ideology that outwardly wants to eliminate us.  We saw this on 9/11, and countless other times and places around the world as terrorism fueled by this fanatical culture attacked peace-loving people.  As Americans, we have an obligation to protect our freedom by taking a stand against those that want to do us or our way of life harm.  Yes, freedom has a responsibility that goes with it – the responsibility to protect it – and protect it at all costs.  America and Freedom are synonymous – we must protect both.

So why do we need to fight for others who are not free?  Two reasons –   First, “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. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed”  The opening to our Deceleration of Independence, our deceleration of freedom, says ALL are created equal, and if we believed in this so much as to create a nation around it, then we must consider this does apply to ALL.  We can’t stand by and let those who suffer and outwardly seek our help to continue being oppressed.  War is only the absolute last option – we, as a generous and wealthy nation have many options to choose to help the oppressed.  Second, oppressive ideologies can spread like cancer and must be contained or eliminated as they emerge.  Again, war is the last option, but we always should be prepared to make a stand for those who can not make a stand on their own.

So please thank a Veteran, and thank those who currently serve – because they have volunteered to stand up for freedom, to protect our natural given rights, at tremendous risk, and at tremendous sacrifice.  The men and women who have served and are serving tonight deserve our gratitude, our respect, our love, and our prayers.  Because of them, we get to sleep well tonight, we get to watch football tomorrow, we get to sit in a park in NYC and protest, we got to cast our votes earlier this week, we get to hug our children and spouse, we get to sit in front of a laptop and blog, we get to live in a country where life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are OUR unalienable rights, endowed by God.

Thank you Veterans, and God Bless…

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Some food for thought – the difference between being in control vs under control.  When I think about what America has stood for over it’s relatively short existence, it’s been freedom.  What does freedom really mean?  Webster defines it as “the quality or state of being free: as a : the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action b : liberation from slavery or restraint or from the power of another : independence c : the quality or state of being exempt or released usually from something onerous <freedom from care> d : easefacility <spoke the language with freedome : the quality of being frank, open, or outspoken <answered with freedomf : improper familiarity g : boldness of conception or execution h : unrestricted use <gave him the freedom of their home>

I would define freedom as being “In Control”.  In control of your life, your being, your everything.  Being in control of my life means I also choose not to be a victim – I don’t place blame on others for the demise of my being.  When you begin to blame others, especially those who really have little impact on how you live your life, you choose to become a victim – no longer in control.  At the point you become the victim, you release yourself from responsibility of actions you have taken, or could have taken.  This line of thought continues – blame others, then demand restitution.  Wall Street is rich, they are greedy, so that’s why I’m broke – take money away from them and give it to me!  Let’s get the government to punish these greedy bastards.  So look at what’s happening here – instead of being in control, these people now want others to be under control (i.e. not free) because they were successful in building wealth.  What they fail to realize is that they are now also under control – all the hand outs allow the government to constrain (definition a) your choices – do this, don’t do that or we’ll take away what we are giving you.  All this just leads to socialism – big government, controlling your life, and in turn, controlling how you live (see definition b).

It’s easy, and it’s lazy to always seek blame for everything that occurs in your life;  fail a class – teachers fault; show up late to work – some slow poke driver; relationship falls apart – it was their fault…and on and on.  The problem is now people are wanting to place blame on their demise to almost everything.  I’m out of work because of Bush; my life sucks – it must be Wall Street; it’s just so frustrating, that no matter what happens – we immediately want to place blame on someone.

It’s time for America to be free again!  Everyone needs to look inward – are you in control of your life, or are you under control of someone else?  It your choice – and I choose Freedom!  Stand up and take responsibility for who you are and who you want to be – the possibilities in America are endless – if you choose not to make excuses and blame others! Be In Control!

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