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Be Grateful for the Gift of Freedom
As I was sitting in an airport on Veteran’s Day, I couldn’t help but think about the topic of Freedom. I am sincerely grateful for the people that formed this country and risked their lives for me to have the freedom that I experience today. Thank you to all of the veterans, military personnel, and families that support them. I’m especially grateful for those that have given their lives for our freedom. Without your sacrifice, my success could not have been possible.
As I contemplate the meaning of freedom for me, I can’t help but think of my experience in life and encourage you to reflect on what freedom means to you. I recognize that my idea of freedom may be different than another’s, and that there are different kinds of freedom: personal freedom, political freedom, and religious freedom to name a few. I understand that the formation of our country was not perfect by any means, and that there was a tremendous amount of inequality and injustice for many. However, I’m happy that we continually learn from our past and have the freedom to change our future to include a more just and equal society. As the French playwright, Albert Camus, said, “Freedom is nothing but a chance to be better.”
Since 1976, I’ve had the pleasure and privilege to travel to almost one hundred countries and many of the beautiful United States. Regardless of where I’ve traveled, I’ve noticed that some people have demonstrated their personal freedom while others have not. From these observations, I recognized that personal freedom requires that someone makes a choice.
I went to countries that were once “behind the iron curtain” like Hungary, China and Cuba and I saw limitations of freedom in the government structure compared to the USA. I was delighted to meet many people that were creating what they felt were free and satisfying lives for themselves in spite of their strict government. These people showed up as independent tour guides, street vendors, farmers, entertainers, and customer service representatives of all types. In spite of what they called their “limited” government and their underlying fear about being restricted, they chose to express freedom. They figured out ways to use their skills and talents in creative ways to orchestrate a fair exchange of value with others. In other words, they worked within the “system” to be creative, earn money, and succeed. They expressed tremendous amounts of gratitude for the opportunities that afforded them more personal freedom. I also noticed that as their gratitude increased, more opportunities showed up for them to experience greater success. I have to say, that their example motivated me to value my freedom even more.
I am also grateful to family members who have gone before me to demonstrate personal freedom during difficult times. In 1902, my grandparents arrived as teenagers from Ireland with nothing. They moved around to find any work that they could in order to survive. They worked hard for up to 18 hours a day for very little pay. They lived in group slum housing until they could get decent paying work and afford a room of their own. While recalling their experiences to me, they said that in spite of the hardships and discrimination at the time, they felt free. There wasn’t any assistance available to help them, but they felt that they had the power of choice and were grateful to be in the United States and alive. As they continued to express gratitude for their freedom of choice and their opportunities, more opportunities showed up. They didn’t waste time complaining and they didn’t blame others for their lot in life. They stayed focused on what they wanted with gratitude, and moved around to take advantage of new work and opportunities. The result was that they finally got good jobs which enabled them to support their growing family and community. They were wonderful examples to uplift the next generations which included my parents and me.
As a citizen of the USA, I enjoy a great freedom to choose how to live my life. There is nothing for us to fear in choosing to work and live where we want, support political candidates that we want, express ourselves freely where we want, and to practice the religion that we want – unlike some of the peoples that I met in other countries who continue to take great risks to express their creativity and personal freedom. As US citizens, we have the freedom to travel to different countries while many peoples of the world cannot.
I would love for you to take some time to sit quietly today and think about your personal freedom. Reflect on those that came before you to enable you to have the freedom that you experience today. Express your gift of freedom fully – don’t take it for granted! Choose to create the life that you want – don’t waste your time focusing on what’s wrong, but rather, think about and talk about what you want to create and experience. If you want a new job, you have the freedom to find a new position in a new part of the country. If you want to express your religious faith, you can do that and share it with like-minded people without fear of getting arrested. If you want to start a business, marry your sweetheart, have children, or serve your community or country, you have the freedom to do that. If you want to protest or support political candidates who you feel are in line with your beliefs, you have the freedom to choose to do that. This kind of freedom is not available everywhere in our world. It’s a gift that was given to us by the people who came before us and fought for it. I am so grateful that there are others who continue to risk their lives to maintain our precious freedom. I am sincerely thankful for their commitment and service to all of us in our United States of America.
If we continue to be grateful for the freedom that we have, and use our skills and talents the best way that we can to share with others and create a fair exchange of value, more opportunities will show up for us to reach new levels of success and express greater freedom in other areas of our lives. Enjoy your freedom – it truly is a valuable gift!
May you be blessed, happy, healthy and prospered now and always. You can learn more success principles in my book and at www.maymccarthy.com.