Freedom from, freedom to, freedom for

  • Published
  • By Chaplain (Capt.) Samuel Bridges
  • 71st Flying Training Wing
In America, we come from a cornucopia of cultures and countries.
Our parents, grandparents and others came here seeking lives better for themselves and their children.
If you ask the question, "What is the greatest draw to America?," through our 220-year history you might find "freedom" to be the most predominant answer. Freedom is possibly the most valued opportunity our country has to offer and is certainly the most priceless possession we hold as Americans as well.
Even from childhood, we learn to covet our freedom. When we misbehave, we are put in time out. Our freedom to run and play is taken away.
For many of the world's religions, freedom is one of the most valuable commodities as well. Buddhists attach great importance to being free from frivolous wants and desires. The less you want, the happier and more whole you will become. Islam holds freedom in high regard also. An original principle of Islam is that all people are free, in accordance with the fact Allah creates them in freedom and they are born free.
Passover, one of the holiest festivals of Judaism, celebrates the escape of the children of Israel from the Egyptian "house of bondage." It is celebrated as a reminder of the importance for the continuing battle for freedom in every generation. Christianity equates freedom with salvation. As we are saved through Christ, we are free from sin and its effects on our relationship with God.
So, freedom is an inherently desired-for quality of life. Regardless of who you talk to, freedom is not only sought after but demanded as a religious or inalienable right.
The wonderful thing about freedom in the United States is, not only does living in a "free country" afford us a life of freedom "from" many things like being persecuted for our religious, political or other beliefs, but we have also been given freedom "to" and freedom "for." We have freedom to worship in any way we choose. We have freedom to take care of ourselves and one another. We have freedom to work and fight together towards liberty and peace throughout the world.
Ultimately, we all agree on the importance of freedom for all of humanity. Something we don't necessarily agree with is the source of that freedom. I would personally say freedom is a precious gift, and God is the source of that gift. What are you doing with that wonderfully precious gift?
I hope this holiday season you are taking advantage of your freedoms. Remember, you are free to say no to self-destructive attitudes and actions, free to take care of yourself, free to take care of your family and friends and certainly free to be a blessing to others. Take part in this holiday season by giving to those who are less fortunate, praying for those in need, and of course remembering your wingman. We are rich only to the extent we are free. Let us be faithful stewards of our freedom and let us not forget we need each other for advice, friendship and love.