The Responsibility of the Free

It’s another July fourth weekend and I’ve loaded up on enough food to feed a small village. I’ve bargained for the best deal on fireworks from the plethora of vendors lining thebth_fireworks-american-flag_zpsac5cc454 streets in my city declaring they’ve got the greatest deal of them all. It seems I’ve done my part in upholding Independence Day traditions. Oh, did I mention I’m headed to the fireworks to fight my way through the crowd of thousands where I will spend more time in traffic than I actually do watching the sparkling phenom? Hey it’s tradition and you can’t change tradition on a whim.  Yep. That should about do it. That’s the Fourth.

And then again, if this is what this holiday has amounted to, then it has gone the way of Christmas and Thanksgiving—we indulge ourselves and the few in our circle and have a hard time explaining what the holiday is about.

Was it the Pilgrims or the Quakers at Plymouth Rock? Were Santa and baby Jesus born on the same day?

I have a strong suspicion that when the founding fathers broke away from Britain a couple hundred years back they had a little more in mind than popping illegal firecrackers when they talked about freedom. Now, this was not just freedom to worship and establish our own without the tyrannical rule of a King or Queen but freedom in a country where men and women could choose and elect a government that represented their beliefs and the true reflection of the people. (O.K., we’ve had a hard time explaining some things. My ancestors are giving me an evil chill because nothing justifies slavery.)

But let’s not get mixed up. By no stretch are we perfect, the Norman Rockwell image is alive only in our heads, but eying national news, even if for a moment or two (Egypt did what to Morsy?) you know that we are better off than many. We have progressed in many ways even if we have a while to get to where we need to be. But yet we moan and complain and are often annoyingly ungrateful. (You won’t be able to install my pool until when?) This freedom doesn’t make us carefree or less engaged but our burden transitions from being confining and dictating to being lighter and less intrusive. It makes room for individual expression.

And now we have the responsibility to teach the world– by example. To show them that freedom isn’t demonstrated by being self-serving, pretentious elitists. It is conveyed by creating a vested interest in others. It is shown by being kind and compassionate and realizing the humanity in peace and helping those who cannot help themselves. It means that we are empathetic towards others—even those who don’t look like us. In other words, we are indeed our brothers’ keeper. Freedom carries weight and expectation. This liberty has nothing to do with doing whatever you please. It is reflected in being able to make choices and to grow and express ourselves as individuals. It is the opportunity to use our specific talents and gifts to help others. (Notice the theme here…others?)

Freedom is a precious thing.

It reminds me of the ring bearer at a wedding. He toddles toward the front of the church, short arms outstretched, careful to uphold this fancy pillow, just as he’s been instructed to do. He’s tiny and seemingly insignificant but he is carrying the most important symbol of the bond, the undying love of the couple standing at the head of the altar. All eyes are on him, watching and waiting, his responsibility is great even if he doesn’t grasp this truth.

In the beginning we too, as Americans seemed insignificant. But now, all eyes are on us, watching and  waiting. It’s our responsibility to walk the walk of the free with dignity and grace–fully understanding this truth.


About Dorcas Graham

I have been a professional writer for more than 20 years; primarily technical writing and freelance journalism. My passion for fiction writing brings me here. Now I have the opportunity to pursue what I love! My debut novel, In Three Days is now available on and I'm happy to share this exciting journey with you. In addition to updates of what's happening, I will also add tidbits of information and writing tips I have learned along the way. I welcome your comments. Enjoy!
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3 Responses to The Responsibility of the Free

  1. Rilla Z says:

    Okay, I’ve got to say it: I don’t know of a single ringbearer that actually carries the real ring on the pillow. I think your analogy bears out something more telling. Nobody entrusts the ringbearer–not even his mom–with the wedding ring these days. He doesn’t know what it means, and he could just as soon let it roll down the aisle, play with it, or swallow it. He doesn’t understand what makes it important. That doesn’t mean that some ringbearers are incapable of understanding, though. They just haven’t been taught how to view the concept of marriage and the value of that gold band.

    Is it enough to teach the world to stop being self-serving? I could tell a ringbearer, months before he walks down the aisle, to be a good boy and take good care of that ring. Would it matter? He needs to know why. Why is it important to be considerate–to do unto others as I would have them do unto me? Why is it important to be a peacemaker? Why is it important to curb myself from doing what I please? Proverbs 14:12 says, “There is a way which seems right to a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” There are a ton of things that may seem right to a person, and they can be done with the best of intentions, but the end is going to be bad…for more than just that one person. We are losing our freedoms because we don’t remember why we were entrusted with them in the first place, or Who placed that freedom in our hands to value and protect. We are losing our freedoms because we’ve proven ourselves incapable of being entrusted with such a valuable asset. That’s why our president is working to take over the healthcare system, which will mean universal coverage for some treatments and no coverage at all for others. We will lose our freedom to choose treatment that fits the person, rather than the system. But our healthcare system has already proven itself too corrupt. Every day it sucks money through a fat straw and turns away honest, deathly ill people without a second glance. We need tighter security and restrictions (i.e., less freedoms) in our schools because our schools are reaping the results–the anger, frustration, and hatred in children for rules and regulations that are diametrically opposed to what they are learning. (E.g., if I evolved from a monkey, why does it matter whether I treat my fellow students kindly when I can haul off and show them exactly what I think of them?)

    I think you’re right that we aren’t taking responsibility for our individual actions. For example, we view ourselves as servants of a company that tells us what to do. We trade more than our time for that paycheck and those benefits. Those little white lies, cover ups, questionable instructions, and decisions to look the other way are adding up. The way to retain freedom is to go back to the beginning and figure out Who gave it to us, our purpose for being entrusted with it, and the rules He set down for possessing that freedom. Only then can we act responsibly and be self-governing, not self-serving.

    I’ll get off my soapbox quietly now. Obviously, this post struck a chord with me. I thank you for that.

    • You’ve made so many valid points. And I do agree we are losing our freedom for reasons we can control. We are gently being lulled to sleep by this freedom. My ring bearer analogy was just to show a brief example of how unaware we are of the precious gift we hold. Although he’s not carrying the real thing, the symbolism behind his act speaks volume. No, I don’t think any adult in his/her right mind would allow a two-year to walk any where with the real thing! lol. Love your comments! > Date: Wed, 10 Jul 2013 17:21:12 +0000 > To: >

      • Rilla Z says:

        Thanks for responding so graciously and patiently to my passionate comment. I really appreciate that. I thought your ringbearer analogy was endearing and poignant. 🙂

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