Note: This article may contain commentary reflecting the author's opinion.

Everything has a cost. Such is the nature of life. “To whom much is given, much will be required.” Freedom is an amazing gift. Yet many of us don’t stop to think about the burdens we must endure, and the faith we must sustain, in order to preserve this liberty. We as Americans continue to declare today, July 4th, a holiday each year so we may contemplate these thoughts and ponder how we can continue to honor the sentiments — as well as the sacrifices — of our Founders. Or as Thomas Jefferson put it, preventing bad actors from exercising “tyranny over the mind of man.” 

Before we can lend thought to the costs we must bear to keep freedom alive, however, we first must first understand what freedom truly means. Freedom found in the religious life means being able to prepare your soul however you see fit for whatever you believe comes next. It means a coach being able to pray on the 50-yard line of a football field before the game for the well-being of all the players and for inspiration that they might do well. It also means being able to choose non-belief without being harassed or discriminated against. 

Economic freedom means never showing up to a grocery store to discover empty or bare shelves, and not finding previously stable and reliant stores to be lacking in basic necessities. 

Personal freedom means being able to count on law enforcement to not be fully corrupted and — if or when that fails — having the freedom to protect yourself and your family in the best way you see fit. Mainly, having a right to legal counsel and a right to keep and bear arms. Not just for personal safety, but also to remind the government it should fear its people and not the other way around.

Once the people are disarmed and silenced, there’s nothing to stop the impending chaos from unraveling our young American experiment by allowing a runaway government to gut it entirely. Because there is no mental check in place, there would be very little to prevent a massive power grab.

Educational freedom means being able to discern truth honestly, together as a society (or at least as a solid majority of society) so it may be taught in classrooms across the nation. It means giving children the opportunity to attend charter or private schools through voucher systems if their parents feel it’s a better way. It means making certain our tax dollars are doing all they can do to make the public school system all it can be, and not letting union politics dominate the curriculum and lesson plans. It means allowing parents to homeschool their children if they are determined to take a more active role in their child’s life. 

It also means not being shackled by student or credit card debt, made possible by predatory lending practices, and false edicts from government and academia that everyone must go to college to be a success. 

Freedom of the individual means being able to go out amongst your peers without fear of extortion, blackmail, physical harm, coercion or intimation because of your beliefs – or your refusal to bow to any specific system of demands or control. You shape your identity in America. You are not part of a whole, but one of many different pieces. You determine your future. Nothing is written in stone. You can be anyone you want to be so long as you are honest, determined, and work hard. 

Medical freedom means having clean hospitals and a healthcare system that allows competition to determine who has the best ideas for moving forward into the future, and not leaving it up to a bloated bureaucratic government to run the finances until it collapses in on itself from skyrocketing debt. 

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Financial freedom means having the opportunity to work so you can make payments for your rent, food, clothing, family needs, personal likes, and vacations, without sweating that you’ll have nothing left. It means not being further finically burdened by government interference triggering unprecedented inflation, sending gas and food prices to unthinkable levels, while devaluing your paycheck in the process with each passing week. 

Now that we’ve given freedom several faces, it’s time to understand what it takes to keep such a society free – while also identifying the forces seeking to destroy it all for profit or personal gain. 

The preservation of freedom may be difficult, but it is not necessarily complex. It takes belief and dedication to a few basic tenants the Founders held true to, and which we must resurrect if we wish to keep things stable and peaceful.

Faith in not only a higher power to avoid idolization of the government but also in ourselves and in each other. This would be the first step. We as a nation have seemingly lost our love for Mass, Church, services, and other religious practices which used to serve as moral foundations and reminders of community. There are many reasons for this: scandals among its leaders, the pandemic, an overall apathy, and malaise. Yet as difficult as it may be, we must reassert the importance of the idea that we serve something bigger than ourselves. For without meaning, man becomes a dangerous animal as opposed to an intelligent, welcoming soul. 

Maturity. My father used to say older folks aren’t always smarter – they’ve just been around so long they’ve seen things happen and have witnessed the cycle repeat. Our elders must step up and give as much tutelage to the younger generation as possible.  Systems of propaganda and politically motivated censorship as well as condemnation, have poisoned the well. We need men and women who have seen many sides of life to share their wisdom and to do it quickly. This was how America was founded. Ben Franklin was the elder statesman who helped oversee many of the operations the colonists undertook. We cannot turn things around on youth and idealism alone. 

Compassion. We cannot lose our hearts. It can be very easy to grow cold or numb. Especially today. This doesn’t mean giving to those who don’t deserve it. It means understanding we are all human. We all hurt. We’re all in this together. Preserving our humanity, while still upholding a code of ethics and standards, is the key to harmony and peace among a divided people. 

Love. It may sound cliché or simplistic, but without love, none of the rest of the world really matters. Love for life, for your children, parents, family, friends, fellow man, your work, God, the beauty of the world, or just all that is good. It is our light within the darkness when others try to push their agenda for power through spreading desolation, division, and pain. Let love unify us so that the good of the nation may fight back against those filled with spite and hate. 

Most importantly though, it takes courage and vigilance to keep your independence and personal freedom intact. You must always be watchful of those who seek to strip you of the liberties you enjoy under the stars and stripes. Not only must you identify them, but you must also stand up and push back against them. 

Hijacking the freedoms listed above and distorting them for personal gain, money, and authority is an attack on our way of life. The way of life that fought a war to end slavery. The way of life led to assisting Europe when Hitler and the Japanese set their eyes on world domination. The way of life which fought back against the evils of Soviet Communism and the millions of innocents it killed. And finally, the way of life that currently gives us an abundance of safety, food, shelter, faith outlets, and personal options with the best part being — if you don’t like it in one part of the country, you can move freely until your find your promised land among the land of the free, and home of the brave. 

Or as Sean Connery said to Sam Neil in the “Hunt for Red October,” — “No papers. State to state.” 

Wishing all of you a happy Fourth of July in hopes we can each find our own path and special way to continue our contributions to the cause of freedom. Keep the faith and may God continue to bless you all and this amazing land of ours.