Yesterday we here in the U.S. celebrated the 4th of July, Independence Day. We Americans love freedom!
Most Americans will tell you we’re the freest country in the world. In many respects we are. We enjoy broad freedoms of speech and expression. We have the freedom to follow whatever religious beliefs we choose. For the most part we have the freedom to live wherever we want, associate with whoever we want, and pursue whatever sort of work we want.
While we’re free from most external constraints, millions and millions of us are abusing our freedom and losing it. We’re creating our own personal prisons with invisible bars.
- Personal debt – Abusing our freedom to spend & borrow.
- Unfulfilling jobs – Locked in because of fear and debt.
- Addictions – Abusing free access to alcohol, prescription drugs, pornography.
- Poor heath – Self-inflicted through obesity, smoking, STDs.
- Over-commitment – Misusing freedom to control our own schedules.
- Guilt – Living in the past, bound by regrets and “what ifs”
- Loneliness – Using our freedom to abandon relationships and community rather than work through issues and problems.
Underlying all of these are the dynamic duo of personal imprisonment:
8 ) Pride – The belief that we can handle all of these things on our own or that we can’t possibly know that we’re struggling with one of these things.
9) Fear – The belief that the devil we’re living with is better than taking a step into the unknown to escape it.
Personal and Societal Problems
What’s sad is that these problems are mostly self-inflicted. And while we might refer to them as “personal problems,” when they reach epidemic proportions as they have in our culture, they affect everyone.
For those of us who recognize that these are societal problems that affect everyone, there’s often a strong desire to fix the problem. We try to legislate and reduce the freedom that’s being abused. Or we condemn and ostracize those whose self-inflicted problems become public.
We are quick to point out the speck in our brother’s eye, while ignoring the log in our own. I say if we’re really concerned about these self-inflicted problems coming from abuses of freedom, let’s start from the inside out.
- Me – Take personal inventory. Where have I been abusing my freedom and hurting myself. Where do I need to get some outside help?
- My family – Am I encouraging and supporting my spouse to live responsibly? Am I raising my children to understand the responsibilities that come with freedom?
- My friends & extended family – Who do I love and genuinely want to see make the most of their life? Who have I earned the right to speak frankly too.
These are huge issues that we can’t afford to take lightly. Let’s reduce the emphasis on trying to change and regulate other people and instead focus on living the best life we possibly can. And let’s not do it out of fear of the negative, but rather because each of us matters. Each of us was created for a unique purpose.
You are too important to get caught up in and stay stuck in any of that junk!
7 thoughts on “9 Ways We’re Surrendering Our Freedom”
Oh, this is SO good! My toes hurt a little, but it’s good! I have trouble with your #s 6 and 7. I have a lot of junk in my past and I let it get in my way A LOT! Also, I hate confrontation. Used to, at the first sign of trouble I would bail. I’ve been working on that one though. It’s still a tough one for me, but I’m getting better.
Hey Christie, thanks for your comment. The fact that you’re aware of your struggles and open about them is half the battle. Keep on moving in grace towards freedom.
Good article, hope you don’t mind me adding the following words about pride – which I picked up somewhere on the net during my meanderings…
“True pride has to do with acknowledging and respecting who you are and what you can do, without any outside confirmation or approval. False pride has to do with claiming that you are more than you believe you are, and that you know more than you believe you know. This kind of pride almost always requires outside confirmation or approval to cover up an inner feeling of inadequacy. Mind you, I am not saying that there is anything wrong with outside confirmation or approval. It’s only a measure of false pride when you cannot feel any self respect without it. Another aspect of false pride is arrogance. This is when you pretend that you are better than others in ways that cannot be measured by skill. It is one thing to be better at a particular skill than anyone else, and it is quite another thing to require others to acknowledge that or to pretend that somehow your level of skill makes you a higher type of human being. You’ll notice that I keep saying “pretend.” This is because no matter how good a person is at acting superior, to the degree that he or she needs outside validation for the superiority that person is pretending. Someone with true pride may or may not be a superior person, but that doesn’t matter to them.”
Angus, thanks for sharing your thoughts on pride. I think you’re on to something with the two different types of pride.
This is such a great read and couldn’t have said it better myself… This is something I feel I can come back to and reflect with from time to time…
Thanks Sean! Glad you found it insightful.
Great article, Paul. Very true.