Freedom

Posted: June 30, 2011 in Christian Living, General Life

FREEDOM

Go ahead and look at that word again.  Stare at it for a second and let the word sink in.  Everybody wants freedom, but what exactly is freedom?  What makes someone free?  What do we do with freedom once we obtain it?

The U.S. is built upon the promises of freedom.  Freedom of speech, religion and press are the foundation upon which we built our nation.  We fought for these freedoms, and in many ways, we still fight for them.  One thing that bothers me is that I think we have lost sight of what freedom really means.

In the movie, The American President, Michael Douglas’ character says, “You want free speech? Let’s see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who’s standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours”.  When you think of freedom, is this how you imagine it?  That is freedom of speech.  If you want to be able to say things, you need to allow others to oppose your ideas.  If you believe in something, there is probably someone out there who disagrees with you.  True freedom is allowing others to speak their minds.

I am a Christian.  I believe that Jesus is the Messiah.  I also believe the Bible is true.  Some of you are not Christians.  Some of you believe the Bible is a book of fiction.  Some of you believe Jesus was just a guy, others just a prophet, and even others don’t believe He even existed at all.  Some of you believe that there is no God, while others believe we all are God.  There are many different religions and theologies out there.  Most of us are pretty stubborn about our beliefs, not just in our convictions, but in our conversations.  We may not agree with other faiths, but do we have to be so angry toward others when they tell us what they believe?  We don’t have to berate those who disagree.  Just like the freedom of speech, the freedom of religion gives everyone the right to believe what they choose.  That freedom is important.  If God gives us the right to choose, and the Constitution gives us the right to choose, who am I to take that choice away from you?  I can offer my beliefs, and defend my choices.  I can even try to convince you that you should believe what I do.  What I don’t have is the right to tell you what to believe.  I don’t have the right to force you, or coerce you into believing what I do.  I can’t beat you, kill you, threaten you, round you up and imprison you for disagreeing.  We all have the same rights to believe whatever we choose.

Civil discourse.  My favorite type of discourse.  I love to debate, to exchange ideas and thoughts about almost everything.  I am fairly opinionated, and usually very stubborn, but I try to listen to what other people say, and try to understand where they’re coming from.  I enjoy hearing multiple sides of an argument because it helps me learn.  I like learning why people do things the way they do, especially when they do things that I wouldn’t, or do things in ways I wouldn’t.  It would be amazing if everyone else enjoyed a good, tasteful debate.  Think of how the political arena could be if the candidates could just say that they don’t agree with their opponent.  “Hi, I’m Joe Awesome and I’m running for Congress.  I think that my opponent, John Supercool, is a great guy, but I just don’t believe that his thoughts on balancing the budget are what we need at the moment.  Now, here are my thoughts on the subject…”  That would be so much better than the hateful and disrespectful exchanges we are subjected to during the political process.

If these guys can laugh together, surely we can find common ground with each other

We live in a world full of different people.  Those different people have different viewpoints, different experiences and different approaches.  Here in America, we have the freedom to express those differences.  Embrace those differences and especially the freedom we have to express them publicly.  Freedom isn’t easy, but it’s worth the effort.

Yeah, if only campaigning was done with this much smiling

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