Sunday, July 21, 2013

Free to be me

A couple days ago I reported on and commented about a peculiar GOP definition of liberty.
…the liberty to pursue your own self-interest without you having to take care of anybody else's interests or anybody else having to take care of yours.
That got me thinking. If I don't like their definition of liberty or freedom what would my own definition look like?

Today the temperature topped out at about 78F, distinctly lower than it had been all last week, and the sky was blue. That means it was a fabulous day for a bike ride. I did about 22 miles and had plenty of time to think about liberty and freedom.

I had forgotten the original quote was about "liberty" and during my afternoon travels I thought about "freedom." So the first thing to do is compare definitions.

The 3rd definition of liberty is: "freedom from control, interference, obligation, restriction, hampering conditions, etc.; power or right of doing, thinking, speaking, etc., according to choice."

The 5th definition of freedom is: "personal liberty, as opposed to bondage or slavery."

So I guess I should be free to use the words interchangeably.

It didn't take long to come up with the top item in my definition. It is something every person who is part of a sexual minority would rank highly.

Freedom means being free to be myself. That means being free to figure out who I am without societal strictures and religious dogma making me afraid of myself and contorting my psyche to please others. That means developing my passions and abilities wherever they take me. That means living with integrity.

The next thing I thought of was Four Freedoms by Norman Rockwell. These are Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Worship, Freedom from Want, Freedom from Fear. These paintings were created during WWII and are Rockwell's most popular.

Freedom means freedom of speech, being able to say what I want about the society around me. That is the essence of this blog.

Freedom means to worship as I see fit. I'm appalled that others, as part of their own freedom of worship, seek to force their religion on me through attempts at a state religion and seek to restrict my rights to satisfy their god.

Freedom means freedom from fear. I haven't faced bodily harm because I'm gay. Then again, if you don't need to know my orientation I probably won't tell you. And that implies a fear of rejection. I also think about what I've written over the last week, that a great number of African-Americans live in fear. And a great number of others live in fear because of a society saturated with guns.

Freedom means freedom from want. That is another part of being free to be myself. I should be able to develop my talents and passions and be able to make a living wage from them. I was able to do that in my first career as a computer programmer. If I wanted to work full time I'm sure I could make a living wage teaching music. But that would be mighty difficult to do as a composer, no matter my talents, unless I wanted to work in popular music (which I don't). I'm fortunate I can use the pension from my first career to fund my second.

However, I'm quite aware that there are millions of people who do not have freedom from want. Even if they have a job it may be one that does not engage their passions and talents, one they keep only because they need the money for things like food and shelter. I long for a society that helps people fulfill their passions and use their talents and allows them to make a living wage from what they love.

And on to a few more:

Freedom to be a part of a community, to join without restriction, to support others and in turn be supported by them, to be recognized and appreciated for who I am and the passions and talents I give to the community. Included in this is support of and being supported by community assets, such as roads and highways, public works and services, museums, libraries, and parks (both local and national).

Freedom of good health, to have access to good medical care and prevention services while maintaining my freedom from want.

Freedom from oppression, freedom from someone using physical, mental, spiritual, or economic violence to coerce me to do what they want or to prevent me from fulfilling my dreams and potential.

Freedom to fairly elect those who represent me in government.

I was about to wrap this up when I remembered the Second Bill of Rights, proposed by Franklin D. Roosevelt. He adds two more general categories: housing and education -- housing that is adequate, pleasant, and secure and enough education to be a contributing member of society and to develop my talents.

So. Freedom to be me, freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want and fear, freedom of community, freedom of health, freedom from oppression, freedom of fair elections, freedom of secure housing, freedom of adequate education.

No doubt I've missed a few. I will gladly entertain suggestions.

I note that the current GOP and their backers are actively working against all of these freedoms.

They want me to worship their god and to twist who I am to fit their dogma.

They want money and power to flow towards them even if it means many suffer from want, inadequate housing, inadequate health care, and are otherwise oppressed.

They want to be in power and fair elections and adequate education get in their way.

Their definition of freedom is the opposite of community. They promote the idea that if you can't make it as an individual, you can't make it.

They use fear so that I might turn to them for protection.

They have equated money with speech, drowning out my voice.

Any question why I vote the way I do?

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