It was bath time for my 2 ½ year old granddaughter and she thought it would be fun to put water in her mouth and spit it at her mother. When she was corrected and told she did not have the freedom to express her desires in that way, she made a mad face that would rival a scary Halloween poster. It was pretty funny. She was, in her childlike way, expressing what we all feel when we can’t do what we want to do. None of us like to be told ‘no’ when it comes to pursuing the fulfillment of our desires. We all prefer to have the freedom to do what we want to do. While we fight for and guard our freedom, however, freedom is not autonomous. We have only to look at the increase in gang-related shootings, terrorism, and school tragedies to understand the concept that some expressions of freedom cause harm and are not acceptable. The concept of limitations is easy to understand in these circumstances. What about other situations?
Mark Cuban recently commented that he would stand behind his team if they chose to protest during the national anthem. His rationale is that we never want to squelch our right to protest or be heard. But aren’t there better and more effective means through which protests can be made? What about using our energy and resources to make a difference rather than bringing attention to ourselves? We never want to be a nation that fosters oppression, where people are bullied or denied the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Do we want to be a nation in which a national identity, pride for our country, valuing character and integrity, are nothing more than a mere option? Have we moved to the place where ‘freedom’—that is, autonomous freedom—is our ideal? Dignity is inherent because we are created in the image of God. We are to love others and express that love with compassion and understanding, but that does not mean that anything goes. The pendulum has swung too far. Perhaps we need to grapple a bit more with getting rid of those things which have caused harm while holding on to those things which keep us a stable, loving, prosperous and cohesive nation.