Freedom is a weird thing.
When we declare one freedom, we take away a bunch of others.
If I’m free to drive any speed I want without stopping, then pedestrians lose the freedom to cross the street.
If I’m free to put a stake in the ground and declare a piece of land my home, then billions of other people across generations, past and future, immediately lose that same freedom.
If I’m free to say no, then someone, somewhere, perhaps living right next door to me, is losing the right to say yes.
We, Americans, tend to simplify the concept of Freedom. We use the term as if we all want the same things when we know all too well that that just isn’t true. The constitution and all of its “oh-yeah-and-this-too” amendments are far too interpretable to be universal.
And the framers — the designers of our sacred plans– they weren’t Gods. They were men. Men who owned other men, which makes them less than perfect in my opinion, or at least fallible enough to warrant revision.
With so many freedoms to choose from, I may raise the flag for a different reason than you do.
Without wanting to hurt you, I may be fighting against your freedoms.
And you may be fighting against mine.
This is a difficult place to start a relationship, particularly if we’re intoxicated by the illusion that a single, perfect Freedom is what binds us together.
In actuality, it’s just a starting point – a huge headstart for sure, but just a start, nonetheless. Freedom gives us a chance.
It’s Compassion, Kindness, and Empathy that bring us together – being brave enough to consider your freedoms alongside mine.
That’s a heavy lift.
Much harder than raising a flag.