Let freedom ring.

With all that’s going on in our society today, one cannot help but wonder about what freedom means. Freedom of speech. Free to be you and me. Free to be getting something for nothing. Or free to be liberated from whatever the heck you want to be liberated from.

But I wonder how many individuals are actually taking the time to sit back and think about what freedom means. I wonder how many people are actually reactively responding and unconsciously feeding into this mass hysteria that activist groups with specific agendas are promoting. Even the most tolerant of people who I know are fed up, fighting each other with opposing views and opinions, yet it appears that no one is actually listening to the other side and simply biting on key words that fuel their rage. Rather than take the time to consume, digest and reflect upon what is being said – and the message that lies within – there seems to be an immediate regurgitation of disgust and frustration.

And I’m there too. No saint here.  Frustrated with the propaganda because I’ve never been a proponent of it and frustrated with humanity because so few seem to be willing to listen, process and try to understand where anyone is coming from.  It’s utterly disturbing to sit back and observe.  I’ve done my best to stay out of social media when it comes to extremist views on politics, privilege, race or many other controversial issues – because I see all sides. 

But what eats away at me the most, is the ignorance and what appears to be a lack of desire from most anyone to open a discussion that leads to a sharing of the why and how – why do you feel that? What did you experience?  How can I help?  And why do I need to take a knee to show I support you?  How can I make a difference – yet still respect, honor and support my own values, beliefs and nationalism?

What is freedom? 

As the daughter, granddaughter, niece, cousin and friend of many a military hero who has either sacrificed or thankfully survived – and maybe not intact physically, mentally or emotionally – the fight for our freedoms, I wholeheartedly admit that I’m not outraged – yet – but certainly saddened to see, hear and feel what’s happening in our country today.  I’m trying, and I’ve reflected long and hard upon it, but I fully admit that the outrage is beginning to creep to the surface.

My grandparents’ generation didn’t know diversity – and it was a Haitian person who told me that, who had been verbally assaulted by a 90+ old man dying of cancer, in a lot of pain.  In her words and what she shared with staff at her hospital, “Why are you taking this personally?  He doesn’t know diversity.  His generation just doesn’t get that.  Take care of him and show him your care and love.”  There is an intelligent, reasonable and understanding human being – who told her mother to get the BLM sign off her lawn.  What an honest, heartwarming discussion we had one summer’s eve because we – the white, the black – talked candidly about what is happening in our society and shared experiences, viewpoints – and respect for all input.  Isn’t that what it’s about? 

I’m white. Doesn’t mean I’m bad. You’re black. Doesn’t mean you’re bad. You’re a Democrat. Doesn’t’ mean you’re bad. And Republican? A conservative Republican? Oh, the most evil of all. You’re not bad either.

I’m Independent – the strongest of everyone from where I stand – but the Government changed that to Unenrolled.  That always struck a chord with me.  If I’m Independent, I’m strong.  If I’m Unenrolled – in psych speak, which I understand quite well thanks to my BA in it – I don’t feel like I’m part of anything.  I’m a drifter. I don’t belong.  I’m not part of a clique. And for that, I am grateful.  I’ve always been an independent thinker, feeler and doer.  And you know what?  I’ve been judged, chastised and bullied for that.  So I ask again, what is freedom? 

I hate to admit that when I don my MSP (Mass State Police) windbreaker, my loved ones say – “Maybe you shouldn’t wear that.”  And I have thought the same.  Long before this racial divide grew out of control, I found myself getting dirty looks when I would be out and about, wearing that.  And I thought … wow. 

I have a Mass Police sticker on my car and was contemplating the thin blue line sticker that I have sitting before me right now and thought – will I be vandalized?  Harassed?  Putting myself in danger? 

And what a shame that is.  Again, I ask, what is freedom? 

You’re free because of my grandfather, my father, my uncles, cousins, friends – and those before and after them – who risked their lives for our country. But let’s get that straight – it was because of our Government. The Governments turned countries against countries. People against people. Please remember this when you are viciously attacking others. The reason you have that right, that freedom – is thanks to them. Those who fought and fight for our freedom don’t hate each other and aren’t war lovers. They are doing what they are ordered to do – because they love their country. National pride and honor.

If I take a knee, I’m free. If I stand to show respect for my country, my USA Flag – I’m not these days. I’m offending someone. If I support law enforcement, which I do, I’m offending someone. Please help me to understand how that is right – how that is freedom? You’re black – I love you, if you’re a decent person. You’re white – I love you, if you’re a decent person. Asian, Muslim, and it encompasses everyone . I respect you all – despite any differences – why can’t you? And why are we holding responsible entire populations of particular people and agencies because of some bad ones, because of things that happened long before our time and because we generalize, lumping them all into the same category?

Generalizations and assumptions are a lazy person’s way out. It’s thoughtless judgment that takes no mental energy, no time and no care. Look deeper. Think harder. And open your minds so that we all can be free – not just some groups.

This applies to all of us whether we are in law enforcement, BLM, gay pride, Democrat, Republican – all decent human beings. Please work together for our country, for us. If you truly believe in freedom, keep us free.

Author: E.M. Murphy

A voracious writer, lifetime learner and eternal seeker who aims to open minds and hearts. Armed with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a NASM Certified Behavior Change Specialist, humanity and humor is at the heart of my writing, reminding us that the key to success will always start with a genuine concern for others while making sure to be true to our authentic selves.

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