“Stand for what’s right. Make your life meaningful.”
~ Maxime Legace, Canadian professional ice hockey player
We are living in historic times! Freedoms that have been taken for granted for decades are now changing. Regardless of personal beliefs many find this chilling while others are elated. When I think about voting rights and healthcare choices I find it ironic that these changes are happening as the 4th of July approaches – a day that symbolizes independence and freedom – the day that the Declaration of Independence was signed. Since then rights and freedoms have been clarified and expanded especially for women and minorities. In light of recent changes I’ve reflected on ‘choice’. “Do I really have a choice?” I wondered. After experiencing feelings of anger, sadness, grief, and fear I said, “Yes, of course I do. It’s up to me, now, how I respond to what’s right for me. That’s what I can control!”
Thich Nhat Hanh, Vietnamese Buddhist monk has said, “Freedom is not given to us by anyone; we have to cultivate it ourselves. It is a daily practice . . . No one can prevent you from being aware of each step you take or each breath in and breath out.” This is how we, as a country, gained our independence. Almost 250 years ago a choice was made to be free and create a democracy. Each one of us makes numerous choices everyday. What happens when available choices change? We see people choose to express themselves through public peaceful protests, writing, speaking, volunteering, entering public service, and voting for example. Regardless of how we choose to cultivate freedom we always have a choice about how we respond to change.
Now, more than ever, I feel that being aware of what’s happening in our communities, states, and government is so important. Seek to understand how your life and the lives of your loved ones will be affected when change occurs. Imagine waking one day and a right, a freedom, that you had was no longer available. This is happening now for many. How will you choose to be free where you are? Thich Nhat Hanh reminded us that, “You can practice freedom every moment of your daily life. Every step you take can help you reclaim your freedom. Every breath you take can help you develop and cultivate your freedom. When you eat, eat as a free person. When you walk, walk as a free person. When you breathe, breathe as a free person. This is possible anywhere.” First, be free ‘within’ then look outward. It’s ok to feel what you feel as you reflect upon freedom. Acknowledge each feeling and let it go until you feel more centered, clear, and in the inner place of love. Freedom is yours to choose. Once clarity comes then you can ask, “How will my voice be heard? What change(s) am I willing to make to feel and be free where I am?”
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