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In times of war or in times of peace, in prosperity and in difficulty, United States has always seen from abroad as the embodiment of liberty. This has been the nation that, with its mistakes and wise moves, has eagerly defended freedom in the world. In spite of how different we might seem because of our skin colors, religions or backgrounds, freedom is the value that we all cherish most in our lives and it permeates every aspect of our society.
Throughout history, many American men and women have valiantly fought and died for their freedom and the freedom of others. Like the American patriot Patrick Henry declared in his speech in 1775 “Give me liberty or give me death”, he wanted to let people know that he would rather die than live under tyranny and oppression.
In the seventeenth century in Europe, there was no religious freedom, Jews were persecuted in the old world and in England you belonged to the Church of the country or you went to jail. Immigrants came from across the globe in the nineteenth century to be free from religious oppression; they came to America, the country where a man could be himself. Albert Einstein, who emigrated from Germany in 1933, stated that “as long as he had any choice, he would stay in a country where political liberty, toleration and equality of all citizens before the law were the role” (56).
Freedom is the ability to act as you choose; it is the right to do as one pleases, but always keeping in mind the popular saying of “my rights end when yours begin”. We have to respect the freedoms of others. Even if we do not agree with some people’s opinions, we still should respect and listen to them.
But the truth is no one is absolutely free, government and even ourselves set limits to our freedom. In our daily life, we stress out over many things such as our jobs, careers, family and more; we live afraid of failure, loneliness or death. People cannot act freely when they are subjected to a constant fear of being punished, censured or abused.
As long as there is something in our lives that perturb or bother us, we are no longer free. No matter how free we believe we are, there is always an invisible chain that fetters us. Slavery in our time (even if it does not have that name) shows when a person renounces to being himself and allows others to manipulate him or decide for him. The slave does not decide for himself about what he wants or what is better for him. He acts because he is told to do so, without questioning the orders he receives, even if his actions go against his principles or harm people they care about or society.
In the nations, governments control freedom through laws that citizens have to follow. Law is connected with human responsibility for his actions and it is a way to ensure that our society is fair to all. In order to make it possible for all of us to live in harmony, the law restricts some people’s freedoms, in order to allow others to enjoy it.
Freedom is a privilege that people too often take for granted. We seem no to value the lives that men and women sacrificed in battle for freedom and our rights. Without them, none of what we have now would be even possible. But when something is given to you, it does not mean as much to you if you would have earned it yourself, and in our case we were born with our freedoms handed.
Our society has changed tremendously throughout history, and the meaning of liberty has done it too. Nowadays, women for example, have freedoms that by trivial they might seem, we did not have before, like the right to vote, to choose the person we want to marry or to go to college and study whatever we decide. We can now develop our talents and be what we want to be.
The U.S. Constitution and its Bill of Rights bestow Americans freedoms and rights. I think today people are more likely to know the most popular songs, than the freedoms the Bill of Rights grants them. We cannot protect something that we do not understand and many Americans do not have an understanding of the freedoms they regularly enjoy. Defending our rights is a primary responsibility of being citizen. The ignorance, the lack of education and knowledge make a lot of people to blindly accept all the values and doctrines that others want to impose them.
We should exercise our freedom to its fullest extent. One example of this is voting. We are not obliged to do it, but what better way to get involved in our community than by participating in the electoral process? Every single vote counts and it is our duty as citizens to choose our own leaders. The Bill of Rights, guarantees, in words, freedoms Americans didn’t want to be without. The free speech is guaranteed in the first amendment, and most people agree that is one of the most important freedoms we have. It allows us to express ourselves and speak our minds. In some countries, a person cannot say what he or she thinks because it will be considered a threat to government and will have to face the consequences. Freedom of speech and choice make people responsible for their words and actions.
The freedom of the press exists in almost every country, although few nations have a press as free as the USA’s. This freedom is not possible when people cannot own the printing, paper and ink like in Cuba, where the freedom of the press is substantially restricted. The radio stations and television cannot exercise liberty when the electromagnetic spectrum belongs to the State and the license might be revoked.
Neither can freedom prevail when the Government buys the silence of the media with state propaganda or the justice permits thieves to sue journalists that denounce corruption. Americans enjoy the right to express themselves and to be informed about how they are being governed. There are many facets to the meaning of freedom, but compared to other countries United States is blessed with it, even though the dualism of limitations and freedom will be always present.
Einstein, Albert. The world as I see it. New York: Kensington Publishing Corporation, 2006, p. 56.