Saturday, July 3, 2021

Reflections of Freedom

Tomorrow is the 4th of July and the United States of America celebrates Independence Day- having unalienable rights, freedom and our independence from the British.  

But the word "freedom" has a whole new meaning to me this year.  After the worldwide coronavirus pandemic, I have thought a lot about what "freedom" means.  The word has been thrown around a lot over the past year.  As an American citizen, it's bothered me that the word has been used for purposes I don't believe it was intended for.   

To me, freedom isn't as simple as not wearing a face mask when you don't want to.  It's not leaving your house whenever you want as health authorities ask you to stay at home as much as possible for everyone's safety.  Freedom isn't doing whatever the hell you want to, when you want to do it, without any consequences for your actions.

A year ago, I was devastated for my personal loss of 4th of July and not being able to go home to celebrate in my hometown of Bar Harbor.  But truthfully, I wasn't really feeling much like celebrating anyways.  I was ashamed to be American.  In my blog post, I admitted that I wasn't looking forward to the 4th for the first time possibly ever.

At the time, I played it off that I was homesick, and I was.  But deep down, I was also totally, completely, 100% disgusted with how things were going in our country.  Many people were doing whatever the hell they wanted to in the middle of a worldwide pandemic- endangering others with no regard for anyone but themselves.  Over the past year, I've felt like that's what it means to be an American... putting yourself above all others without any regard to how it might affect them.

Did I enjoy being holed up inside of our house for what seemed like an eternity?  Not particularly.  Although, if I'm being honest, as time wore on, I found it exhausting to go back outside where there were people.  Even today, Eliot teases me about how quickly I become disgusted with people and their actions towards others.  (I mean, after the last year we all put in, at the very least can't we be kind to each other?!?!)

I certainly don't consider myself to be perfect.  I myself have used the word "freedom" in regards to our post-vaccine life.  I do feel a renewed sense of freedom- freedom from feeling stuck in the house, freedom from fear, freedom from worrying about endangering myself or my loved ones.  And yes, I do feel free now that we don't have to wear face masks... but does that make me a hypocrite?  I don't think so.  Eliot and I were more than willing to wear them when we needed to.  Now that we're both fully vaccinated and we won't be endangering ourselves or others simply by leaving our house, I do feel a sense of freedom- as well as an overwhelming sense of relief.  (My greatest "freedom" is probably my current lack of worry and anxiety due to COVID.)

What's frustrated me is people claiming that government officials or health authorities are "taking away their freedoms".  I guess they were taking away some freedoms to a degree, but it wasn't as bad as everyone was making it out to be.  They weren't forcing us to do it simply because they wanted us to sit and home and do nothing.  They had science to back their claims and requests.  Let's be real, wearing a face mask stinks and no one wanted to do it.  But most of us shut our mouths and dealt with it.

Side Note: Don't get Eliot or I started on all of the people who wouldn't "be told what to do with their bodies" when it came to wearing a face mask.  Yet, most of those same people have very strong opinions about what women can do with their bodies.

The amount of hatred and self-centeredness in this country is appalling.  And after over a year of it marinating in my mind, I thought today was a good time to release it.

There's too much negativity in the world already.  I'm going to look ahead to tomorrow acknowledging the good in this world.  There are good people who do care about others.  I know that most of the people who have spouted off about their "freedoms" the past year are good people too.  I can get riled up about things myself, but I would never intentionally put someone else at risk for my own personal gain.

What I can't deal with is people having a complete disregard for their fellow man.  The name calling, disrespect, political parties always being pitted against each other, and hatred towards specific groups of people (who look different, love different or worship different) needs to end.  There's no place for any of that in 2021.

It's time Americans start to come back together and stop perpetuating all of the divides between ourselves.  We need to celebrate our differences, not attack each other.

We need to acknowledge how good we really have it.  We're so blessed to live in a country where we have the freedoms we enjoy: freedom of speech, freedom of the press, the rights to a fair trial, rights to wear what you want, to marry who you want, freedom of religion, the right to an education, and of course the right to vote.

Although being asked to wear a face mask and being stuck home during the pandemic was difficult, we still have so many freedoms that many people around the world can only dream of.  And as Americans we need to acknowledge that.

While I'm still not sure how proud I am at the way some in our country have presented Americans the past year, I am proud of our country, our forefathers, and of the brave men and women who have fought for our freedoms and our country.  

Tomorrow, I will celebrate the positive parts of being an American: our freedoms, our rights, and all of those who have done their best to make it the beautiful place that it is.

I suppose in the end, "freedom" can mean a lot of different things.  But one thing is certain, we Americans are blessed to live in a country full of possibilities.  °o°

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