Freedom is somewhat of an abstract word. Politicians often use it to stir patriotic sentiments and for virtue signaling. Yet, most people would be hard-pressed to describe what freedom actually is.
There’s certainly potential for freedom in America: the freedom to choose a career path, start a business, travel, live where you want, start a family, practice religion (or not), enjoy parks, and pursue numerous diversions.
But the potential for freedom isn’t the same as ensuring that everyone has unobstructed opportunities for their own experience of freedom.
A strong military provides a defense against an armed invasion. Cyber-defense specialists protect against online threats.
However, there are many other obstacles to freedom.
If people don’t have access to quality education and vocational training, how will they grow in a career that can provide them some financial freedom? Without a relatively good-paying job, many people work two or more jobs living paycheck to paycheck. In Tennessee, college education, internships, mentoring, and vocational training are guaranteed to all residents. It’s an initiative that aims at promoting individual freedom. That program is working.
Healthy people are well enough to work, and that employment provides access to quality healthcare. Those who are sick, can’t work, and without a job typically don’t have access to affordable healthcare. So, the people in greatest need of healthcare can’t get it, and those who are healthy enough to have access to it mostly don’t need it. Some states have established programs to make healthcare more accessible to all.
We have the strongest military in the world, but to someone without a job, without a home, and without good health, the sacrifice of our soldiers doesn’t get fully manifested. We can build high walls to keep others out, but if we don’t have a high quality of life guaranteed for all citizens, what are the walls accomplishing?
In addition to the personal building blocks of freedom for an individual’s life, there are social institutions that help keep our nation free.
The freedom we collectively experience requires ongoing maintenance and upkeep. Institutions of education, libraries, a free and independent press, the courts, and people fulfilling their civic duties are all part of what keeps democracy working. According to Nicholas Johnson, these are the Columns of Democracy.
Try running a car without oil. You won’t get far. Democracy without all of its supportive pillars won’t go far either.
It’s all about freedom—that simple word with so much meaning for so many people.
This July 4, when you think about independence and freedom, consider all that is required to promote and defend freedom for individuals and our country. Let’s appreciate all of those who help support the entire ecosystem that freedom and democracy rely on.
Freedom isn’t free. There’s no discount coupon or special offer code. It’s a lot of work for the individual and for a country.
Happy Independence Day.
The fireworks photo at the top of this page is from a trip to Lake Tahoe during the July 4 celebrations in 2018.
Jobs That Promote Freedom
Here’s a PBS NewsHour video from 1 Jul 2021 on the topic of providing education, experience, vocational training, and apprenticeship programs that will give them a career boost and greater financial independence.
Lee Greenwood is known for his song “God Bless the USA” in which it is proclaimed “The flag still stands for freedom, and they can’t take that away.” Last year, Greenwood, collaborated with The United States Air Force Band, Singing Sergeants, and the music group Home Free, to produce a new version of that song. A video of their recording is below. This is an example of traditional patriotism which is still popular today.