Good Afternoon
Good Afternoon

Full freedom still an elusive goal

An American flag waves over an auto dealership

An American flag waves over an auto dealership in Camp Springs, Md. (Oct. 14, 2011) Credit: AP

Here's another tradition of the season: The Fourth of July approaches and the call goes out to take a moment to reflect on the holiday, to step back from the beaches, barbecues and fireworks and think about what Independence Day really represents.

And so the more diligent among us consider the freedom we enjoy in this nation as a result of the battles our forefathers fought some 240 years ago. We worry about attacks on that freedom, the potential for acts of terrorism against our political liberty. And we count ourselves lucky for living in a place as free as the United States of America.

But the truth is that there are all sorts of freedoms beyond the freedom from a tyrant's yoke. And we think about some of those far less often than we should. Some of us can only aspire to those freedoms, since they remain out of reach.

There is the freedom to worship in church without fearing for your life, a freedom that suffered a heavy blow last month in Charleston, South Carolina, and is threatened elsewhere by alarming fires.

There is the economic freedom that comes from knowing that if you have a decent full-time job you can support your family, a freedom being advanced by the minimum-wage movement and an overtime eligibility proposal offered this week by President Barack Obama.

There is the freedom to marry whomever you want, no matter who you are, a freedom extended last week to millions of gay Americans by the Supreme Court.

There is the freedom that comes from not being judged by your appearance but by your character, a freedom still denied to far too many.

There are all sorts of shackles that bind all sorts of people. Let's think about that Saturday. Let's reflect on the freedoms we all enjoy and the ones many of us do not. Let's work toward bringing those freedoms to everybody. And let's celebrate the tradition that always makes freedom the goal.