Paula Schneider            I always think about the concept of freedom on the Fourth of July each year.  We Americans are so fortunate to enjoy the freedoms we do, especially in light of the horrendous abuses many in the rest of the world have to endure every day when freedom is denied them.  I am eternally grateful for being gifted with the freedom which I believe is every person’s right and which I believe I have enjoyed for almost 67 years.

            One day not too long ago, I was talking with someone who expressed to me, “Americans’ freedoms are being taken away from them.”  First of all I didn’t even comprehend what he was saying – he could’ve been talking to me in Egyptian for all the sense it made to me and second of all I couldn’t disagree more.  I allowed him to elaborate a bit on this idea, which was clearly a hot button subject for him.  Then, I explained that I felt completely differently, and why.

            I shared with him that, my entire life, I have felt so grateful for being able to live in almost complete freedom, making choices that suited me.  Nobody has told me not to do something or prevented me from doing it.  I wanted to go to college and found a way to do it.  I wanted to have a trial marriage and I did that.  Then I wanted a divorce and was able to live as a single female for a while.  I wanted to have a child and was granted that wish.  I’ve had many different jobs – I even opted out of my chosen profession for a while to sell real estate.  When that didn’t prove to be a fiscally smart move (though it sure was fun), I returned to the profession of nursing.  All these were my choices, and so on and on.  I don’t remember a single person ever attempting to intervene in my decision-making, though I’m sure, in looking back, that others could sometimes see my choices might not have been in my best interest.

            It is interesting to me that this person and I approached the concept of freedom from totally opposite perspectives, but since I do believe that there are an infinite number of individual beliefs in our world, I am not surprised.  But what we believe about freedom and other topics of the day certainly influences other choices we make, as well as how we feel about our lives.  I choose to celebrate freedom and enjoy the many gifts freedom brings to me.  Which do you choose today?