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Nearly 240 years ago, our country was founded on the idea that all men were created equal and free. Ironically these words, from the scripture above, were written over a thousand years before Jefferson put forth the notion of an unalienable right to freedom. Read and reflect on each of these definitions and usages of the word freedom. Now apply them to your life and ask yourself this: Are you truly, completely free?

1. The condition of being free of restraints.

2. Liberty of the person from slavery, detention, or oppression.

3.a. Political independence. b. Exemption from the arbitrary exercise of authority in the performance of a specific action; civil liberty: freedom of assembly.

4. Exemption from an unpleasant or onerous condition: freedom from want.

5. The capacity to exercise choice; free will: We have the freedom to do as we please all afternoon.

6. Ease or facility of movement: loose sports clothing, giving the wearer freedom.

7. Frankness or boldness; lack of modesty or reserve: the new freedom in movies and novels.

8.a. The right to unrestricted use; full access: was given the freedom of their research facilities. b. The right of enjoying all of the privileges of membership or citizenship: the freedom of the city.

9. A right or the power to engage in certain actions without control or interference: “the seductive freedoms and excesses of the picaresque form” (John W. Aldridge).

Synonyms: freedom, liberty, license

These nouns refer to the power to act, speak, or think without externally imposed restraints.

Freedom is the most general term: “In giving freedom to the slave, we assure freedom to the free” (Abraham Lincoln).

Liberty stresses the power of free choice: “liberty, perfect liberty, to think, feel, do just as one pleases” (William Hazlitt).

License sometimes denotes deliberate deviation from normally applicable rules or practices to achieve a desired effect: poetic license. Frequently, though, it denotes undue freedom: “the intolerable license with which the newspapers break . . . the rules of decorum” (Edmund Burke).

I’m not totally free. I’m a writer. As a writer:

I am restrained by the laws of grammar, slander and libel.

I have the freedom to choose my words but am at the mercy of an editor who has the power to control my verbage.

I have deadlines to meet even when I don’t feel like writing.

I like to eat and sleep in a house, so I am not free from wants, which means writing something good enough to sell to pay the bills for my wants. (Catch 22)

So I ask again, How free are you?

We are blessed to live in a country where we have more freedoms thanks to the men and women who protect us. We are blessed that God desires us to be somewhat free. By that I mean, he gives us the freedom to choose our lives but wants us to remain in his keeping. He implores us to enjoy our freedom, not use it to control other’s choices, or their lives. He ask we give freely respect and love to one another, including the laws and leaders who govern us but put him before them. Everyday, we need to thank God for what he has blessed us with, including the gift of writing. Every veteran we meet, we need to honor them for protecting our right to claim we live in the land of the “as free as we can be” state of writing.