Freedom is Not Free

Yesterday was a day of reflection in the nation’s capitol for me. In the morning I walked the hallowed ground of the WWII Memorial and the Vietnam Memorial. Forgive me. I did not have time to pay my respects at all the memorials for others who gave so much for freedom, but I heard loud and clear that “Freedom is not free.”

I’m grateful for the freedom to write this blog.

What also struck me profoundly was that some faces in the crowd were once enemies who fought the wars. I heard voices from all over the world … individuals, couples, and families who did not lose their identity despite their side of a war … appreciating one message, “Freedom is not free.”

All sides gave dearly for freedom. Ironically, it occurs to me that what we ultimately have to give up is freedom in order to have it.

I’ll try to explain what I mean.

We all know that we have free will, but that we must ultimately deny others the freedom to murder and do harm. This is probably the most obvious and easiest to accept example of where we give up a freedom in order to preserve the greater freedom of others.

Please have patience with the next example. It takes a little while to develop.

The horror of the Holocaust is heavy on my mind. I recently watched Sophie’s Choice. There was some controversy surrounding the book because Sophie was a Polish Catholic in a concentration camp. I think the author, William Styron, correctly pointed out that it did not matter who was put on the trains or who was sitting at the tables deciding life or death … privilege or no privilege; it was wrong, period.

Last night at the Human Rights Campaign National Dinner, a big issue was Marriage Equality. There is no argument on my part that the politicians and voters are exercising their freedom when they defend marriage as between one man and one woman. However, like other freedoms we limit to preserve the greater freedom, this freedom should be limited too.

In an ideal world we would not need laws to protect against murder because people just know it’s wrong, but the world is not perfect in that sense. Likewise, people should know that putting people like the LGBT community on trains or setting up tables like DOMA is wrong. 

I’m hopeful that basic human kindness and compassion will prevail. Until we live in a perfect world, we do need laws to protect people from hate and ensure freedom to enjoy the privilege and basic human right to marry and love as we choose.

Respectfully, to all sides on the equality issue, my hope is that we can someday walk hallowed ground like at the war memorials today with the same understanding, “Freedom is not free.” … and that we do not lose our identity when we accept each other. Instead of a war memorial for marriage equality could we call it a peace memorial? Can we actually wage peace?

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