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!