In light of the 4th of July holiday and all that it means I’ve been reflecting on Freedom and what it means to me! I grew up with my mom calling me “her little firecracker” since it is also my birthday! Growing up I thought everyone celebrated my birthday! LOL

Many people celebrate the 4th with family and friends. Picnics, parties, and fireworks are common. Is this what it means to be free? The United States is a country of diversity – people, beliefs, ethnicity, color, religion and so much more! Celebrating our independence is one way to express freedom!!

For many years I’ve ignored the news but lately I’ve found it helpful to stay in touch with what’s going on in the world. I’m aware that much of what we see and hear is filtered and often biased. I think of what is going on in the world as a reflection of what’s happening in our inner world too! I’m amazed at how easy it is to become distracted often neglecting to take time to ask, “How is this distraction serving me now? How does it impact my freedom to make choices?”

Recently I’ve walked the streets of downtown San Francisco and noticed all sizes, shapes, ethnicity, skin color, and ages of people. Young, old, middle aged, and homeless. How did I respond? It would have been easy to become fearful and judgmental based on how people looked. It would have been easy to look at everyone in fear because they appeared different from me. Some of the homeless, talking to themselves or unseen others, seemed to be in their own worlds. Some very loud and boisterous too!

Instead of shrinking in fear I opened my heart in acceptance. In my quiet moments I asked, “What are the similarities between us rather than the differences?” I discovered that I felt a deep seated understanding that went beyond our “physical appearances – our suits of clothes so to speak”. I felt that we were more similar than different. Could some of the people I passed on the street feel the same way?

I experienced deep love for my family and friends. I wanted to be accepted for who I am and what I value rather than how I look, what my job title or education is. I wanted to be treated with kindness. I wanted a good life for me and my family with freedom to choose where we live, what we do, what we believe, and opportunities to help others.

I believe that most people want to be viewed as human beings with dignity who have rights. Most want to experience freedom, a freedom to make the best choices for themselves and their families. No one wants to feel disenfranchised or dehumanized. We have more in common than we think!

Perhaps it’s time, as I’m doing, to ask, “What are our similarities? What are our differences? How can I understand their point of view?” Maybe I won’t agree with all of them but then the reverse is true, right? Maybe my views are hard to accept as well.

I ask myself, “Do I want to live in fear of our differences or choose freedom – freedom to choose the life I want to create?” It’s time to look for ways to engage with others. Find similarities and middle ground. Move from judgment because of differences and embrace a belief that maybe we have more in common with one another than we think!

I encourage you to take a few quiet moments, close your eyes and take some deep cleansing breaths. Bring your awareness to your heart space and go within. Seek the wisdom and answers that you know are there. Freedom is a choice! What does Freedom mean to you?

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