Celebrating the Fourth of July: What does freedom mean?
San Diego, June 30, 2020–As national holiday Fourth of July beckons us
to celebrate COVID-style this year, as it ignites many to ponder the true
meaning of freedom; and, how the meaning may have changed as restrictions
have been made to restrict it.
The first Fourth of July
Historically, the wording for the Declaration of Independence was approved
by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, according to
Moreover, originally printed copies of the Declaration of Independence
were apparently widely distributed–creating an imprint on American
history; and, with the deaths of Thomas Jefferson and John Adams on July
4, 1826, July 4th became even more indelible–eventually leading to July
4th becoming a national holiday memorialized by Congress in legislation
passed between 1939 and 1941.
Fourth of July symbolizes freedom, and the birth of America
“We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal;
that the are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights;
that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
The meaning of freedom means a variety of things to every individual
world-wide; and, Americans understand freedom’s principles by virtue of
being an American born into a democratic society.
According to Live Science:
“Freedom is the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants
without hindrance or restraint, and the absence of a despotic
government…including freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, freedom
of expression, freedom of speech and freedom of religion.”
Freedom and responsibility
But with freedom comes responsibility–responsibility to accept that to
live in a civil society, there are limits to the extent by which
individual rights might be exercised.
A good example of limitations is evident in current times, as the right to
assemble in peaceful demonstration is understood by most Americans
However, this principle has been recently ignored by some so as to
ignore the spirit of “peaceful, ” materializing into destructive and
oftentimes violent behavior.
The balance between what is felt, or believed, versus responsibility to
conduct which exemplifies what is considered civil is oftentimes at
conflict, mitigated in some cases by the threat of punishment or laws.
“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t
pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for,
protected, and handed on for them to do the same.”
Billy Graham, in the “4Things the Bible Says about Freedom,”comments
that freedom has been a theme found in the Bible from Genesis to
“For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as
an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another,”
Civil responsibility, and the concept of brotherly love, is found as a
tenant in many religions, as an example of a Golden Rule-type concept
found as a fundamental.
Freedom is independence, and the ability to make individual choices
The pursuit of life, liberty and happiness are privileges oftentimes taken
for granted, expected–and, sometimes without the understanding that in
in order to receive it is it usually necessary to give.
Nelson Mandela says it well:
“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”
From all of us at LifeCycles, have a happy and safe Fourth of July!