Freedom and Liberty are all about choice and autonomy. All through life we are given choices and every choice has a consequence. But not all consequences are what we expect. Our freedoms are precious. Unfortunately, we don’t always look at our freedoms in the same way as they relate to others. The freedom of one sector, may very well curtail freedom for another sector of society. Communism and Marxism are good examples of inequality, although, defenders of those causes would have you believe it is freedom and equality for all. However, if you look closely,  in the former Soviet Union, leaders were exempt from standing in lines for food, and they were never made to live in marginal public housing, and they could choose their education and vocation, not to mention their high pay and fringe benefits. Does that sound familiar? The United States is rushing toward that kind of cast system. Congress has excellent healthcare. Congress persons can stay in office for years, or for the rest of their lives after election. They don’t pay into or collect Social Security. They don’t need it.  After serving for years, they retire with a very lucrative pension plan and the best insurance plan there is in this country.

Liberty. Freedom. Pursuit of Happiness. The Right To Bear Arms. Freedom of Worship. Equality. Let’s start with the definition of Liberty. Liberty is defined as: Freedom or release from slavery, imprisonment, captivity or any other forms of arbitrary control. 2. “The sum of rights and exemptions possessed in common by the people of a community, state, etc… 3. A particular right, franchise, or exemption from compulsion.

With these definitions in mind, how have we as a nation preserved, protected and up held these rights of liberty? We only need to think of the last election and the current presidency of our nation right now in 2011. If our nation was to be judged by the old school standard of the Report Card, what grade would you give our current presidency and congress? I am not adding my opinion here. It’s up to you to come to your very own conclusion and if there is something is not right, if our liberties are being replaced by government taking away our choices, then are we going to sit back and allow that to happen? Or, are we going to talk to our neighbors and band together, go to our congressmen and demand an audience? Do you think that government is taking over too much? Would you rather have more power closer to home? You are not alone. You can join others in causing change.

Now that we discussed Liberty, let’s talk about Freedom. Are these two words synonyms? Although freedom has mostly the same definition as Liberty, there are many kinds of freedom. There is freedom of speech, Freedom to worship in the way that our heart dictates, or not to worship at all if that is our choice. Freedom to move from place to place. Freedom to marry who we wish. Freedom of education. Freedom to bear children or not to have children. Freedom to spend our earnings any way we want. Freedom to have a domestic pet. Freedom to take a walk in the park, smell the flowers, look at the trees or walk in the rain. Admittedly these two are a bit trite, however, do we not need to be reminded of our blessings. And, most important of all, the freedoms to ask for help when needed, and the freedom of choice to live a life of service or not. Do we not need to remember those who can’t walk in the park, or smell the flowers or see the sky.

The Pursuit of Happiness is one of the fundamental desires of all mankind. From the time we are born into this world we are hungry for nourishment and love. Everyone needs it. In our high technological world today, it takes more for happiness than just food and love. You think? It isn’t that way in some remote places of Mexico, South America or Africa for instance. A missionary of the LDS church recently reported that he and his companion found a lady to teach the gospel who lives in a cardboard box at the side of a road. She is happy and grateful to the Lord for what she has. Has? She has nothing in this world. Zilch. And she is happy! Happy? Yes, she is happy for the things that money can’t buy. Money cannot buy you a testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ and the Gospel. Money can’t buy inner peace and joy and love of family and friends. What money can buy is temporary. Still, in our world, in the environments we live in, we do need money and the ability to create a certain amount of comforts to feel like we fit in with those around us. We get used to what we already have. The lady in Mexico has never seen what we have. She knows no other way of life. So, now that we have established that we have certain needs, our wants, unfortunately way outweigh our needs. This drives the credit card balances up to the sky! Then we are tormented by our bills. We become slaves of our debtors. This is called strangulation folks! Psychological strangulation. We can barely breathe. This is the opposite of the Pursuit of Happiness. The Pursit of Happiness then is living within our economic needs and providing for the future, and nurturing our families and friends with love and service.

Although I hate guns because of what they do (they kill people), everyone should have the right to protect their families and home and business. If we take away that right, all the guns will be in the hands of the crimminals and they will use them on the innocent. Any government that takes away that right is a government of thugs. You think?

Freedom of Worship. I have already covered that in Freedom. Even still, we need to protect our rights to worship and not let those anti-worshipers take away our rights to express our faith. The other day, on the radio they were talking about a cemetary that has a big cross on a hill. The anti religious took the cemetary to court and got this old, old cross removed. Our culture is predominately Christian-Jew. Although the Christians are in the majority, we have always gotten along with the Jewish people. You don’t see them complaining about Christmas or crosses. And I’ve never heard any Christian complain about Hanekah or the Menorah. Although there was serious persecution of Mormons in the churches early history, we no longer see serious persecution of Christians against Christians or Jews. Our country has had a long history of religious freedom and respect. Unfortunately today . we have a third group, the anti religious. They feel that they have to some how stop Christians from talking about their faith or erecting representations of our beliefs. They feel that they must take everything off the TV and Radio to do with religion or faith. They’ve taken religion and even the real meaning of Christmas out of our schools. Today schools are no longer allowed to sing about Jesus, but yet they can sing about Santa Claus. Go figure! The Jews are in the minority, yet they have always stood quiet, respectful and peaceful as schools sang Christmas songs. We are getting further and further away from religious freedom. It is very scary. Why can’t we just get alone.  Please ask yourself this:  “What can I do to raise the people’s consciousness about respect for the beleifs of others? I can show respect for others.” What goes around, comes around. For example: If you desire not to worship, or you don’t believe in God, fine. I won’t tell you what to do. I hope you will give me the same respect. Although I won’t discuss religion with you, don’t tell me I can’t discuss it at all. And don’t tell me I can’t take my Bible to school with me to read during lunch time, or discuss religion with friends at lunch. Since we have taken prayer out of the schools, our civilization has gone down while crime has gone up. Schools used to have a quiet five or ten minutes at the beginning of the day. If one wished to silently pray, one could. Or one could just think about nothing. I think they took that away. To my Christian friends and my Jewish friends and all my friends of all denominations, I say, “Thank you for your kindness to myself and others and for all the good things you teach in your examples.

Where am I now. Oh, yes! The last one, Equality. Everyone deserves to be treated with dignity. What makes someone better than someone else? If you feel that you are better than someone else, this is in your imagination. We are all equal and at the same time we are all different. So, if you think you are better, maybe you can try on “different” and endeavor to see this equality thing from a different perspective. We are each at a different level of learning and growing. And there are differences in cultures, in handicaps. We all have handicaps, though in some people we see none. Believe me, they have them. The severely handicapped are very special, in that they cannot error like we can. They are angels and deserve to be respected with dignity and love. If anyone has loss of freedom, I have to say, it is the handicapped. Their choices are few. Yet, you see them mostly smiling and happy. Their life is all that they know. To them, their life is just as full as yours. Besides that, they understand more than you think they do. So, be careful how you speak to them, be kind and understanding. They can have a better capacity to love than we can.

In closing, I would like to say that Liberty and Freedom is an art. It takes practice to appreciate and use these freedoms. Use them with great care and protect them. And be grateful to Heavenly Father for allowing you to be born where freedom is valued and practiced. Thank the Lord every day. And remember that because of the atonement of Jesus Christ we can return to our Father and live with Him forever. This is the prize, the reason we are here. Don’t forget that.  God Bless You and God Bless America!!!

Image: Kate Ter HaarCC BY 2.0

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