How Freedom Grows

July 6, 2022

“Christ has set us free to live a free life. So, take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you. It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life.  Just make sure that you don’t use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom. Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love; that’s how freedom grows.”( Galatians 5:1, 13 The Message)

The first thing that comes to mind when I think of July is the 4th of July. It’s not surprising since the rhythm of summer has included 4th of July celebrations since being carted along to parades and fireworks from my earliest years. As a child the 4th meant a parade, a visit to the cemetery to “decorate the graves” with geraniums and flags for the veterans, a picnic, and getting to stay up late to watch fireworks and play with sparklers. The final phrase of the National Anthem was drilled into my psyche, “O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.”

It is easy to take my freedom as a citizen for granted. I am, after all, a white American with resources that I also take for granted. It wasn’t really until I got to Hawaii that I saw the 4th from a different perspective. My first July in Hana, I was surprised that there were no fireworks or parades. It made sense in that context. Native Hawaiians lost their freedom when the United States overthrew the monarchy.

I would never have imagined that a 4th of July parade could be dangerous. Yet the 314th mass shooting (according to the Gun Violence Archive) occurred in Highland Park, Illinois during one such parade. Our freedom grows not from a declaration of independence but from a declaration of interdependence. Freedom grows when we serve one another in love.

This is the way. ~ Anne

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