“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” - Declaration of Independence: Preamble (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Declaration_of_Independence)
We recently celebrated Independence Day here in USA, which is the recognition of United States’ separation from Great Britain in the mid to late 1770's and our fight for freedom of religion, speech, and assembly. What does it mean today to celebrate July 4th, 236 years after the thirteen colonies ratified? (It actually was ratified and passed in 1778.) We celebrate with fireworks, parades, and carnivals.
Did the American Framers have the foresight to see some 200 years, perhaps 400 years later the tremendous significance of 'all men are created equal'? Freedom means to me the opportunity to be me, a Hoosier American, woman, mother, sister, and daughter, deaf, bilingual, and bi-cultural. We can wave a flag but do we stop to wonder what it truly means to be free, free with liberty and happiness?
“When we lose the right to be different, we lose the privilege to be free.” -Charles Evans Hughes
Do we recognize we are free from conformity and government control? Do the people (citizens, immigrants, and 'aliens') not realize that the concept and the action of freedom come with a price and responsibility? How far have we gone to ensure that all Americans are treated equally despite the diverse characteristics that define us as a human species? How much are we willing to sacrifice of ourselves, our freedom for guidance by a government that is self-serving? How does that make us whole, as individuals and as a country?
“Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it.” -George Bernard Shaw
The Declaration recognizes that the "inherent dignity of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world... These are inherent rights to be enjoyed by all human beings of the global village -- men, women and children, as well as by any group of society, disadvantaged or not -- and not "gifts" to be withdrawn, withheld or granted at someone's whim or will. -Universal Declaration of Human Rights (http://www.ohchr.org/EN/UDHR/Pages/Language.aspx?LangID=eng)
The freedom to be is a part of our whole, regardless if we can hear or not, if we were born to be or made to be. I am free to choose between hearing and not hearing information by turning on or off my hearing aid. I do have to be aware that the choice I make is my responsibility. If I chose to turn on my hearing aid, what do I have to sacrifice in order to achieve the sense of sound? If I leave my hearing aid off, what do I replace or fill in the blanks with? What do I have in my repertoire that enables me to move freely and without obstruction?
“People demand freedom of speech as a compensation for the freedom of thought which they seldom use.” -Soren Kierkegaard
Freedom is a battle to win or lose. In that process, there are always sacrifices. The questions you need to ask are whether those sacrifices are yours or theirs, individual or country, and whether you have the conscious understanding that the short and long term consequences in the pursuit of freedom is, in itself, a responsibility.
The term 'freedom' today has a loose definition. It means many things without thought to the consequences. Is this how we celebrate the Fourth, which was created by the Framers who thought and argued over the significance of the Colonial separation from Great Britain and to the future of the new United States?
“In the truest sense, freedom cannot be bestowed; it must be achieved.” - Franklin D. Roosevelt
To Be Whole
Currently I am an ASL teacher at a local college and at an high school. I received my Masters in Sign Language Education from Gallaudet University. At home, I am an activist within the community, Northwest Indiana. My son is in first grade and my daughter goes to E.C.L.I.P.S.E. ASL Preschool. Change begins with you and change is effective with a team.