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Monday, July 4, 2011

Freedom

This 4th of July, I’m feeling grateful for the freedom our country enjoys. We have seen some amazing changes with the “Arab Spring”, as the world watches more countries struggling with this very issue. I hope the people of those countries, as their revolutions evolve to the next step, can finish the path to freedom.

For me freedom allows me the practice of my religion, one not in the majority. It also grants freedom of speech and expression. Both of these freedoms I hold dear. A big thanks to all those alive and that came before to achieve and defend this freedom.

There are prosecutions going on in the Middle-East countries right now for people trying to achieve these goals for themselves and their fellow countrymen. People that can’t use their own face or name on Twitter, Facebook, blogs and other social networking sites. These people are true heroes, standing up for what they believe in, what they believe is right. Here in the USA, I enjoy the privilege of having my name on this blog, having my face on my Twitter account, using my real name on Facebook.

These freedoms do come under challenge from time to time. It is up to us to keep championing and defending the freedoms that were hard fought for, that many continue to defend with their lives today. Our biggest challenges come from within. We have been a little too complacent allowing these hard-wrought freedoms to slip away. The Patriot Act and the never passed Patriot Act II are just two examples of what can happen easily without a lot of awareness of what these do to our freedoms (other interesting reading: Domestic Security Enhancement Act of 2003, FISA Amendments Act of 2008, NSA warrantless surveillance controversy). As Americans we should both read and understand the consequences of these laws and stand up for what we believe in. Freedoms won’t be taken away easily by a foreign power, but rather go through a slow decay of our own basic rights from within.

This all is evident with a joke, that’s actually not too funny, I’ve told from time to time. As a child growing up, I loved the Tom Clancy movie The Hunt for Red October. In the movie, two Soviets officers are contemplating the freedom that awaits after defecting to America. The line that made the impression: “You can go from state to state? With no papers?”. While this was a true statement growing up, it is certainly not the case anymore. Airports have tightened security, you need a passport instead of a state driver’s license going to and from Canada. My license stays with me more than it did 20 years ago, even if I’m not driving. My papers are deemed more important. It will only get worse if states decide to pass the Real ID Act. It amazes me how Russia has become more free and America less (not that our freedoms are equal).

Freedom still needs defending. America remains a great free place, and worth celebrating. Today is our day of celebration. I plan to enjoy the day, the night and the meaning of this all-American holiday and thank God for the freedoms that I enjoy, those which America gives me. It’s easy to be apathetic, but today I’m “Proud to be American.” I hope freedom lives on in this great country. That we don’t continue to dilute and give our freedoms away.

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