As the Independence Day weekend here in the US of A draws to a close, I find myself reflecting on this whole notion of celebrating "Independence", a large part of which revolves around us all having certain "rights" and "freedoms."
As I look back over the years, my immediate recollection is that my first July 4th celebration was in 1982, a couple of years after I first arrived in Austin, Texas to go to college.
Then I remembered that my first Independence Day celebration actually was in 1972, when I was still a kid in Denmark. You see, that year we went to the Rebild Festival in Denmark because we were visiting some expat American friends who lived not far from there. I remember my mother being very excited because Danny Kaye was the keynote speaker.
It's an odd memory to carry around... the other odd thing I remember distinctly about the visit is that the people we were staying with raised Bloodhounds. They were large droolly beasts whose poop seemed to cover pretty much every green area on their property.
Whose Freedom is it, Anyway?
One of the things I remember about that first Independence Day BBQ I went to in Texas was the impression I was left with of how this whole notion of freedom is really a difficult thing to identify. Everybody seems to know what it means yet everybody says something different.
What's more, "Freedom" — at least in some people's estimation — giveth and taketh away, at the same time.
So often, that amounts to some variation of "I want the freedom to do whatever I want, and that freedom includes the right to PREVENT YOU from doing what YOU want (thereby denying YOU, YOUR freedom!) if what you want is something that is distasteful or offensive to ME!"
I dunno... around where I grew up, we call that "hypocrisy,,,"
A delicate balance...
You're Just a COMMUNIST! (And Other Ironies)
One of the things that was puzzling to me when I was "fresh off the boat" from Denmark was the odd assumption by many "natives" that because I came from a country with socialist leanings I must be thrilled to be in the US and have so much freedom.
Some even suggested that my being from Denmark automatically made me a "Communist." They wanted to know what it was like, growing up in such a repressive society.
I used the word "puzzling" because Denmark — and yes, it's a Social Democracy — because Denmark consistently ranks higher than the US in the annual Human Freedom Index published by the Cato Institute.
I found myself asking the people I was talking precisely what they believed I didn't have the "freedom" to do, back in Denmark. Nobody ever had a very clear answer to that question.. although a lot of my Texan friends seemed to focus on "I bet you don't get to have guns like we do here!"
Now I have no issue with people's right to bear arms, I just find it rather myopic to define Freedom in terms of firearms. And we end up back at that contradictory idea that one person's "freedom" somehow outranks another's.
As I said, freedom is a slippery beast...
... and maybe there are no clear answers here.
In any case, I was grateful to have the freedom to peacefully celebrate Independence Day!
Thanks for reading, and I hope your weekend was a good one!
How about YOU? What does "freedom" mean, to YOU? How do you feel about the state of freedom in the country where YOU are? Comments, feedback and other interaction is invited and welcomed! Because — after all — SOCIAL content is about interacting, right? Leave a comment — share your experiences — be part of the conversation!
(As usual, all text and images by the author, unless otherwise credited. This is original content, created expressly for this platform.)
Created at 20200705 23:46 PDT