July 4, 2020

Freedoms No One Can Take Away

Norman Rockwell's "The Golden Rule."

2020 has given the free world a taste of what it's like to live under increased government restrictions and presumably temporary loss of freedoms. When the Covid-19 pandemic hit, society panicked and we easily handed over our freedoms out of fear. We wanted to be safe from disease. Hopefully, we've all been paying close attention to what's really going on, rather than running around like a bunch of scared chickens.

The United States is facing a potentially nation-changing decision in November, and it's important to understand that this isn't about politics. It isn't about popularity. It isn't about personality. It's about ideologies. But we need to put on our thinking caps to understand this. We must refuse to be manipulated by emotional turmoil.

On one level, it's a battle of which "ism" should dictate national policy. On another, it's a battle over whom should dictate how people are allowed to live: under a ruling class or should we decide for ourselves? On a day once associated with celebrating our Freedom as Americans, maybe we should be asking what it really means to be free. Do we really want to be free? Now is the time to decide.

The ideological battle will continue to rage on, but no matter what personal and civil freedoms are taken away, there are some freedoms that no one can touch.

The Freedom to Be Kind

"It costs nothing to be kind." I don't remember where I heard that, but it is oh, so true. A kind word, a kind gesture, a smile - such small things, yet why are people so stingy with kindness? Kindness is a choice we each make multiple times every day.

The Freedom to Be Patient

So many people are impatient and in a hurry nowadays. They forget that patience is a choice. Actually, I would say it's a habit, just as impatience is a habit. People get in the habit of being in a hurry, of wanting to push everyone else out of the way, and then getting angry when they can't. Does anyone really like feeling this way? I don't, and it's my choice to exercise either one or the other.

The Freedom to Not Complain

Who likes being around complainers? Raise your hand. I don't, and usually find myself avoiding people who constantly complain. Not that there isn't plenty to complain about, but it quickly becomes a bad habit.

When I was growing up, my mother would tell me, "if you can't say anything nice, then don't say anything at all." I heard that so many times that it usually pops up in my mind when I begin to open my mouth in complaint. I find that my mood and my days go so much better when I exercise this freedom and don't give into complaining.

The Freedom to Let Others Have a Different Belief or Opinion

One of the things that fascinates me about 19th century fiction such as the works of Jane Austen and Charles Dickens, is the conversations. Back then, conversation was considered a form of entertainment and differences of opinion were considered interesting. Not so any more. Perhaps because of insecurity or a lack of self-esteem, many people are extremely uncomfortable when others have different opinions. It's gotten so bad, that some equate a different opinion with hate.

It is odd to me that in an era when diversity is so highly prized there is a vehement demand that everyone else be a mental and emotional carbon copy of Self. We may not be able to control the resulting censorship, but we can choose to allow others to have their own beliefs and opinions.

The Freedom to Not be Offended

This is a choice, and I'd say that being "offended" is a manipulative choice. Just like name calling, it's intended to make the other person backpedal and change what they're saying or doing. It takes being a grown-up to be gracious and not take everything personally.

The Freedom to Respect Others

The idea nowadays is that respect must be earned. I disagree because it implies the right to disrespect others until they pass some sort of perceived test. Unfortunately, that idea usually hijacks itself. If A treats B rudely until B earns their respect, chances are that B will decide A hasn't earned B's respect because of their rude behavior.

Rather than respect, I would say it is trust that must be earned. We should be cautious whom we trust, but we should show respect to everyone. Respect ought to be everyone's right. And there's the conundrum; respect can't be taken, it can only be given.

The Freedom to Forgive

This is an extremely powerful freedom, yet it is rarely exercised because the intent of unforgiveness is to punish the offender. That's human nature. In reality, the offender simply gets on with their lives, usually without remorse or regret. The offended is left bound to their hurt and anger, unable to be free of it. Unforgiveness binds us to our hurt. It binds us to our anger. Forgiveness sets us free. Without forgiveness there can never be wholeness, there can never be healing. The power of forgiveness is to set ourselves free. That is, if we want to be free.


Norman Rockwell's "The Golden Rule" painting beautifully sums up these and other freedoms that no one can take away. When in doubt, I try to ask myself, how would I wish to be treated in the given situation? Do I like it when others are impatient with me or unkind? Do I like being complained at or about? Do I like being bullied because I think differently than others? Or being told I'm offensive when I'm actually clueless? Do I like being disrespected? Do I want to hold on to anger and hurt when the other person doesn't even care?

Do you realize that this could be the last 4th of July holiday this country is allowed to celebrate? Think about that today. Think about how you want life to be for yourself, your children, and your grandchildren. Think rationally and wisely, not as a knee-jerk reaction to whatever emotional hot buttons have been pushed recently. Then make your life choices accordingly. You won't be standing alone.


Sam I Am...... said...

What an absolutely beautiful post, Leigh. I must have been raised the same because the Golden Rule and the "if you don't have something nice to say" was always being reiterated when I was growing up. My mother used to say "manners were free and soap was cheap".
Unfortunately, I must have been living under a rock because I never realized how much anger and hatred was alive and well in our country. It breaks my heart but I can only pray that we come out stronger and braver and more democratic for everyone on the other side. Happy 4th of July!

Cockeyed Jo said...

Leigh, AMEN! Very thoughtful and well written post. Life is about the choices we make. You are right. We are tettering n the brink this year. Although it's been close through history, never this close and the ground underneath our footing is crumbling. But no matter how November turns out, you are right about the God given freedoms you mentioned.

Happy 4th of July, Leigh, Dan et al.

daisy g said...

Couldn't agree with you more. I live by that Golden Rule every day and it has never steered me wrong. My tagline now says,
"Go Forth. Do Good.", and I aim to do just that. Forgiveness comes easier with age I've found.
Although I have very different political views from many around me, I simply say, "I respectfully disagree" and move on. There is no need for all of us to see things the same way, think the same or act the same. God made us all different for a reason. And we really are more alike than different, when it comes down to it.
God Bless Us, every one!

Mama Pea said...

I wish this post of yours could be published far and wide and that people would read it and really think (and follow through with education if they have questions) about what is truly happening. Otherwise, we're all going to find ourselves living different lives than we've ever imagined.

Retired Knitter said...

Great post. I agree.

And I would add that all these things you mentioned are easy to do when reality seems alined with the core values our nation was built upon and the cultural norms we thought were firmly established are present (whether they were or not.). It is a lot harder to sustain that positive attitude when it seems like both those things are being torn down to their foundations. But the only way to counteract that destruction is to live by the freedoms you wrote so beautifully about - regardless of how terribly hard it can be to do so.

Goatldi said...

May I add a state of Grace?

We all have triggers that when touched can elicit emotional response’s. Living in a state of Grace is not associated with any religious group or organization. It is like reacting in kindness. Both of which are learned and chosen responses to bullying and direct confrontations geared to elicit a ongoing negative exchange. It is very difficult to argue with someone who will not respond in a negative manner.

There will be many encounters in one’s life where the people involved will have to accept they will “ have to agree to disagree.” Even fast friends don’t agree on everything.

However as Leigh has repeatedly expressed so eloquently attaining the ability to respond in grace requires commitment and practice.

And I believe it also requires the realization that “it takes as much thought and energy to be kind as it dose to be right.”

Happy Fourth of July America !

Frank and Fern said...

Thank you for your thought provoking piece. I find your general theme to be permeating society. As you are aware, we are in trouble. Enough said.

Please tell your husband thank you. Certain skills will always be necessary.

Peace be with you,


Rain said...

Wow Leigh. That was awesome. I could feel the resolve in your words. All of those points you mentioned are interesting to read. And you've given me a lot to think about. Besides the global crap that's happening, I do have someone in my life who is a bully and tries to belittle me for their own pleasure (it seems). It's hard not to take offense and feel hurt by it, but the way you described that it's a choice whether or not to be offended, that gives me a lot of food for thought. I wonder if I am being manipulative by feeling hurt by their words and actions? I don't know, I may not have a thick enough skin to not get hurt, but I guess I can choose not to be offended too much! Baby steps :)

I hope you have a wonderful July 4th! :)

Debby Riddle said...

Great post, thanks for speaking out!

Frugal in Derbyshire said...

Absolutely with you with your freedoms
I don't understand a sentence in your last paragraph. Why might this be the last 4th July your country is allowed to celebrate?
Keep safe and well Leigh

Tiny Toadstool Cottage said...

Wonderful, wonderful post. It was particularly interesting that you pointed out the art of conversation in the past and how we have lost that. It has certainly become a case of if you do not agree with me, then you are wrong. These are all points that we should be trying to embrace and live by every day.

Michelle said...

YES! We have so many freedoms that no government can touch – more than most people realize. I'd like to add a freedom that some people think has been taken away, but hasn't and never can be – the freedom to pray. Anyone anywhere is free to talk to God, and listen to His still, small voice. 😊

Lynda said...

Beautifully written and I can tell you have put a lot of thought into this. Thank you.
All I can say is, "let freedom ring!"

Toirdhealbheach Beucail said...

A very thoughtful post Leigh - and very true.

One point that matters as well is that all of the freedoms you enumerated cost not one cent. They can be exercised by anyone, at any time. We just need do them.

Nancy In Boise said...

Amen sister!!!

wyomingheart said...

πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ Thank you Leigh, and Amen!

Leigh said...

Thank you everyone for your comments! I hope you all had a wonderful weekend.

Sam, I think a lot of people have been unaware because the mainstream media has been very selective in what they report and how they spin it. Plus, most people have been fixated on covid and the lockdown to the point of distraction. I think we all hope for better times, but I also think it's wise to brace for the worst.

Jo, thanks! Yes, we are at a turning point and I think there's a rough road ahead.

Daisy, excellent tagline! I agree that most political discussions are fruitless, so I think you handle that wisely.

Mama Pea, we've had so much thrown at us these past several years that I think most people are just running on emotional frustration. I sincerely hope folks will stop and think things through rather than being at the mercy of political hot buttons.

RT, it seems like our core values have been under attack for so long that they are lost for most people. We have to hang on to them as individuals, flesh them out as individuals. And I agree, it is terribly hard to do.

Goatldi, excellent point! Yes, it's grace that makes living these freedoms possible. And I agree, it does take practice. From experience I can say, it takes lots of practice! So praying for grace is something I have to do daily.

Frank, yup, that's it in a nutshell! I'll pass that on to Dan. It will be an encouragement to him.

Rain, having to endure bullying is so tough; I'm so sorry to hear you have to deal with that. Yes, bullies do manipulate. They do it through fault finding, name calling, threats, and fear. I wish I could give you an easy answer that would help, but those are the kind of people I hand over to God and then have as little to do with them as possible. There's nothing that says we must subject ourselves to that, although avoidance isn't always an option. Hang in there.

Thanks Debby!

Gill, I believe this may be the last Independence Day we're allowed to celebrate because leftist bullies want to abolish it because they claim it's a symbol of white supremacy. They claim all of our European roots are symbols of white supremacy. So if their candidate wins the presidential election or they otherwise hijack it, whatever's left of the US as we know it will be torn down or destroyed.

TTC, thanks! Yes, conversation is truly an art. I absolutely don't have this skill, which is why it fascinates me so. I guess I'm pretty old fashioned in believing people have a right to their opinions, and I'm glad to see others agree. :)

Michelle, excellent point! Another one is the freedom to be thankful.

Lynda, amen!

TB, yes, exactly! They are all choices that we make every day. May we have the grace and bravery to choose freedom.

Nancy, thanks!

Wyomingheat, thank you!