From the Archives:

Each year we set aside days to remember those who have sacrificed everything to give us the freedom that we hold dear. Today we gather with friends and family to celebrate all that we have been given due to our forefathers’ wisdom and willingness to take a risk; a risk that would unite not only thirteen colonies but eventually form a union that has held fast for 236 years.

A month ago I visited for the first time our nation’s capital, and during my visit I was amazed at the paradox of death and life resonating in and around the city. Arlington Cemetery gave testament to the thousands upon thousands who gave their life for our country… for me. I heard stories of wars, assassinations, disagreements and yet there before me sat the United States Capitol building, the Statue of Freedom standing proud on top of that dome. Walking that city I realized no matter how many trials our nation has seen, we have continued to move forward together.

But, as a new generation rises, my own generation and those after it, I wonder how many of us really grasp the importance of our own voice in the progression of this great republic.

I graduated with a bachelor degree in Journalism and Mass Communication. I understand the importance of the press. I understand our role in bringing truth to the masses so that the people can make educated decisions.

1786 August 13, From Thomas Jefferson to George Wythe “I think by far the most important bill in our whole code is that for the diffusion of knowledge among the people. No other sure foundation can be devised, for the preservation of freedom and happiness…Preach, my dear Sir, a crusade against ignorance; establish & improve the law for educating the common people. Let our countrymen know that the people alone can protect us against these evils [tyranny, oppression, etc.] and that the tax which will be paid for this purpose is not more than the thousandth part of what will be paid to kings, priests and nobles who will rise up among us if we leave the people in ignorance.” (more quotes by Jefferson)

Education is key and I believe the press’ responsibility is to act as one venue of education for the people, giving them the information (ideally without bias) so they can form their own opinion and decide what the wisest decision for the country is.

But, even if the press is doing this, (which I will be the first to say though many of us try, we do not always succeed) is our audience in a position to listen, understand and act? I do not believe we are. I do not like blaming the internet for where our nation is now. The internet has expanded many opportunities of learning, growth and communication. But I believe it has also lent a hand to information overload and a shorter attention span.

This being said, I believe my generation is becoming lazy in its freedom.

What are we doing to preserve our freedom? Do we even really understand how to preserve it? Is war our only understanding of preserving our rights?

In DC I also visited the Newseum, which is a museum dedicated to showing the power of the press. One thing that really stuck with me, was the Berlin Wall display and the gentleman in front of me who opened my eyes to an event in history I really knew very little about. He told his friend to look at the graffitied side of the wall (so of course I looked too). This side was completely covered with colorful words, not an inch of the concrete was plain. Then he gestured the man to follow him and they (well, we) walked to the other side where there was a plain, gray piece of concrete, with a watchtower behind it. And the gentleman said, “You can clearly see who had freedom of expression.” As I walked around and heard about what went on behind that wall, I began to realize how free I really am. I can hear both sides of stories and determine for myself what is the truth. Then I have the freedom to take that truth and decide what to do with it. I can talk about it, blog about it and share my opinion about it. I have that freedom, but do I actually do this?

And if I do not, does that put my freedom at stake?

Please understand this is more a confession on my part. I am not the ideal informed public that Jefferson said is so vital to keeping our rights. I listen and read just enough to get by but many times I allow others’ opinions and interpretations to drive my own. And this realization about myself worries me. If we all have this attitude, I think Jefferson would say it would be our own demise.

If we do not utilize our freedom today what do you think our nation will look like tomorrow? Would love to hear your thoughts/opinions. 

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About C

A creative, hardworking professional who sees not a dead end but a mountain of possibilities in each of her endeavors.

One response »

  1. Jon F. says:

    I prefer to think that while our generation is probably on the decline compared to others before us, the majority of us can still grasp the reality of freedom for what it truly is. Sadly, and not a knock against them, I don’t know if the generations that follow are/will be as understanding of this. Taking from what you said, I don’t want to say that it is only the fault of the internet, but I do feel that, as well as other technologies play some part in all of this. Ultimately, it will fall back on us to be the ones who are left with the task of making sure it doesn’t become just another excerpt in the history books. It’s not an easy road ahead.

    Our generation was brought up with the internet, but not entirely from the beginning. I mean, computers were introduced early on, but I didn’t really do anything with the internet until Jr. High years, and even then, we still were required to use encyclopedias for most things until my years into high school. With that said, through my younger relatives growing up now, they have never seen a time when the internet didn’t exist, cell phones weren’t the norm, and other technologies weren’t so common. In saying this, I know I’m as guilty as the next person to have fallen entrapped in the virtual world. Now it’s a way of communicating, expressing yourself, and gathering information. However, not trying to tout myself, but I am glad to say I know there are books out there to learn from, and other forms of life outside of this technology overflow.

    After saying all of this, to try and bring it back around to the topic at hand, I hope those of us who still know we can go read a book and share stories that have meaning and merit to them, actually do so. The internet can be a great tool, but seeing the effect it is already having on the younger generation, I quickly see the downside of it as well. There are those within our generation who I don’t totally understand freedom for what it is. One of the last true tests of freedom that shook most people up was the 9/11 attacks, because afterward everybody at least spoke as if they were all for our freedom, and however we had to defend it. Again, not trying to knock anybody, but after seeing how quickly the majority dropped this feeling, I wonder how many truly grasped the reality of what had happened and how many people it would go on to ultimately affect in some regard? It just seems that while people are quick to say “United We Stand”, they are just as quick to say that when they believe others are paying attention, then move on and don’t really seem to grasp the reality to what it means to be able to live that way where we are. This is probably my pessimistic side talking, because there are MANY people out there who understand what it takes for us to have the freedoms we share on a daily basis. There are also people who believe they understand, but really don’t have an idea, or if they do, they really don’t seem to care as much as they should. Those of us who do understand the fight for freedom, and the great blessing that it is should never pass an opportunity to share this with others.

    Part of this is the freedom to express yourself. As you said with the Berlin Wall, on one side, there was freedom of expression, and on the other side, there was no such freedom. We fortunately live on the side filled with graffiti, though some of us choose expression much like the other side. I say that because I’ll openly admit that I am guilty of this at times myself as much as the next person! Am I proud of that? No. Does that happen all of the time? No. There are always going to be times when we wish we had spoke up when we didn’t, and wish the outcome could have been different. I have that feeling a lot. Your message though brings forth a new challenge to me, because in a situation where I might believe it is better to remain quiet, I have the freedom to speak up and if I remotely feel it is in the best interest, I should do so and not be afraid of doing so! Over the past few years scouting out mission trips (which I have yet to go on), many of the places that Christian believers go in to every single day, are places that are restricted by the government and are forced to live by the way of the gray concrete wall of Berlin. They have no freedom, yet countless people risk their lives to bring them the message, because they otherwise might never go about hearing it. Those people are soldiers as well in their own rights! Maybe they aren’t in uniform, but they are taking on an unprecedented task, and like you said, not all freedom ties have to relate back to war in some way. Freedom isn’t free. Those of us who have a voice should be doing our part in making sure we do our part in sharing what we believe is right and making sure that we make the most of the incredible opportunity we are presented with.

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