The Fourth of July: Flags, patriotic songs blaring through speakers, fireworks, and beer.
For many, that’s what this day represents. A chance to get drunk. A chance to grill some grub. A chance to sing “God Bless the U.S.A.”—one.more.time. Freedom is complicated, as SCOTUS is constantly demonstrating.
No matter what side one falls, the idea that freedoms apply to corporations, companies, businesses, and government agencies is frightening. Freedoms are meant for the people they protect, nothing more, nothing less. Recent events remind me, of course, of Ray Bradbury‘s novel, Fahrenheit 451.
It was my favorite novel to teach back when I still taught—mostly because it forced students to think and to question, to really analyze what freedom is and what our government really does for us. Fahrenheit 451 does a great job of kicking at people’s cognitive dissonance.
While the book’s main focus is the dangers of reading (which leads to having actual thoughts and possibly protesting against wrongs), there are warnings woven into the pages. Important warnings I think everyone should take note of.
So on this fourth, I leave you with two quotes to contemplate as you watch the fireworks and think on freedom:
I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do. I am free, no matter what rules surround me. If I find them tolerable, I tolerate them; if I find them too obnoxious, I break them. I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do.—Robert A. Heinlein
For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.