Posted by: JennyRain | October 13, 2009

Freedom Is Not Free

I have the distinct privilege of being surrounded by people who have a lot more knowledge and experience than I do.

In the past weeks I have had a recurring discussion with a variety of these older, wiser people. The discussion centers around the concept of freedom. They asserted that many in my generation (GenX – roughly 1964 – 1980), have enjoyed freedom in a variety of areas because others who have gone before us have paid a significant personal price for it. They wondered if we are taking our freedoms for granted, since many of us have not had the experience to be intimately involved in the fight for freedom as previous generations had.

Disclaimer: Now before you go sending me a bunch of hate mail for the above claim, I want you to know that each one of these conversations fully acknowledged the personal price individuals and families have made in military operations such as Desert Storm, and both the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.  Knowing that, please understand that I enter this conversation with full reverence, respect, and deep gratitude for the families who have made the ultimate sacrifice to maintain our freedoms here in America and abroad!

Civil Freedoms

Beginning in the mid-1900’s (and before) our country fought for a variety of civil freedoms. Women, minorities, the oppressed – wherever injustice was found in our nation – often you would find a group of individuals banning together to fight it.

These individuals and groups endured outrageous persecution and fought at times to the point of death. However, without these individuals, we would not enjoy many of the civil freedoms we now call “rights.”

Consider the famous “I have a dream speech by Martin Luther King, jr” and the fight for civil rights that ensued. Consider Rosa Parks decision not to give up her seat. Without these courageous individuals and countless others who will forever be unknown, would the reality of an African American president have happened? 

 

Religious Freedoms

One of the reasons the United States of America was so enticing to our settlers is because it provided an opportunity to provide religious freedom. The early settlers had lived in countries where religious infighting and persecution were the norm. They longed for more freedom in worship and there were states settled in the US that were specifically designed to provide religious freedom and pluralism.

Eventually however, many of these dreamers ran into severe persecution here in the US too. Consider the case of Michael Sattler.

Michael Sattler (1490 – 1527) was a monk who left the Roman Catholic Church during the Protestant Reformation to become one of the early leaders of the Anabaptist movement.  In May, 1527, Sattler was arrested by Roman Catholic authorities, along with his wife and several other Anabaptists. He was tried and sentenced to be executed as a heretic. As part of his execution his tongue was cut out and red hot tongs seered his body. He was then taken outside the city where the tongs were used on him again before he was burned at the stake. The other men in the group were executed by sword, and the women, including Margaretha, were executed by drowning.
 
 
So what does this mean for us today?
 
For me, it means gratefulness. Gratefulness to women, for example, who have gone before me so that I can enjoy the freedom to vote. It means awareness. Awareness of places where there is ongoing justice and awareness of what it really takes to fight that injustice. It means vulnerability and receptivity. If I am not vulnerable and receptive, injustice will wash over me without impacting me, and if it does not impact me, I will not be a voice for change.
 
But let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream. Amos 5.24
 
 
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