Have we gone too far with freedom? I ask this question from an individual’s perspective. Yes, our national anthem declares that we live in the land of the free and the home of the brave but has that taken on a different meaning than it was intended to have? The land of the free was primarily intended as freedom from religious persecution. The home of the brave was meant to show we are brave enough to stand for what we believe is right. What have we done, as individuals, to reinforce or twist those two meanings over the years? Now it seems the land of the free and the home of the brave means we’ve given ourselves permission to do whatever we want, whenever we want, however we want, to whomever we choose, and it’s okay. Have we taken it to the extreme over generations? In taking a glimpse of the Civil Rights Era, people such as Martin Luther King, Jr. were proud to fight for what was right in the land of the free and the home of the brave. During that time there was a large segment of the population that wasn’t quite as free as others, and many were afraid to be brave enough to stand for what they knew was right. But thank God for the chosen few who did so that progress could be made. I look at today’s generation and wonder what progress we are making. My heart is grieved at what is considered freedom now, the ability to publicly degrade themselves and others; proudly wearing just enough clothing to technically say they are dressed; losing sight of their values; no forethought for their future; fighting against the wrongs of the world by giving up and giving in.
A few months ago I visited the African American History Museum in Washington, DC. What an amazing experience! Seeing our history from slavery to present was a reminder I think we all (Black and non-Black) could use. There was a time when our great, great, great, great grandparents wished they had the ability to sit in a classroom but we’ve lost the desire for that. In fact, we don’t even have to go that far back. They would not have thought it possible for their descendants today to be seated at the same boardroom as their non-Black counterparts, but we are. It is possible for us today because of those who understood what being in the land of the free and the home of the brave really meant. They were fully aware of the rights being denied us based on the freedom promised to every American. With bravery, and certainly not the absence of fear at times, they stood for what was right.
There is still a need for us to stand for what is right. The work is not yet done and it grieves me deeply to see foolish use of freedom. Those that have gone before us fought hard to be treated with respect and to be seen as equals. Too many of this generation don’t seem to even respect themselves so how will others respect them? I am 100% for freedom of speech and creative expression through style but not at the expense of self-respect or respect in general. Yes, there was a time when we HAD to say “yes ma’am” and “no sir” or pay the cost. We no longer HAVE to say those things, but why aren’t they considered a simple courtesy? My question to each individual is, have we gone too far with freedom? It’s a personal question that each of us has to answer for ourselves. I would also encourage every parent reading this article to pose this same question to their children and/or grandchildren, and every teen to pose it to their peers. What could each of us do to make a positive impact in this land, the land of the free and the home of the brave, to ensure true freedom remains available for all and when necessary, the brave can stand for what is right and seek change?