You will probably be reading this the first week of July, when we will celebrate the Fourth of July. Historically, freedom is the overarching theme of this holiday. We celebrate freedom in all of its forms–for the opportunity to achieve at the highest levels; to worship in any way you would choose; and freedom to be who you are, love who you love, and act accordingly.
The political climate at this time doesn’t seem to be encouraging freedom as much as I’d like to see for any marginalized community, and that means us, members of the LGBTQ+ community. In the past few years, we have seen some bizarre things, such as cake bakers who’ve refused service to members of the LGBTQ+ community who requested a wedding cake, and staff members in city halls across the USA refuse to issue marriage certificates to gay people.
Military service men and women who identify as trans have been ostracized, banned, and had lives ruined, interrupting the performance of their assigned duties. Consistent hate crimes against Black trans women continue to result in murder and serious injury, and there are renewed efforts that mirror past decades, to rid school districts of out LGBTQ+ teachers and counselors, as well as anyone living in a same-sex partnership or marriage. And this is only what is reported, so I suspect there are many more frightening and backward examples of discrimination and bullying.
So, what’s the concept of freedom mean to some people, to some communities? That leads to a discussion on inner freedom, or personal freedom as we conceptualize life. My question: Is inner freedom like inner peace?
There are many newscasts and media outlets that continue to relate the very darkest of the happenings of the day, with all of the gory details. Sometimes I wonder what motivates us to watch the news, to listen to the political pundits discuss our world and how dim the future may be.
There is positive news of course, but sometimes it seems that we gravitate toward the negative, perhaps because it often seems more exciting at first glance. The old saying may be true, that people would rather complain about something they don’t like than remark on something that’s good that they do like.
There are people who take the news that’s broadcast as 100% truthful and based in reality, allowing themselves to be lulled into thinking it’s so bad, nothing can be done and there is no power or influence that can effect change.
At times, the news may seem very discouraging, even demoralizing. On the other hand, and there’s always another hand, there are ways around the bad news, the disturbing actions taken by others, that may allow you to rise above and see more clearly. And that just may be the path that can lead to positive and hopeful thought processes and attitudes, and create ways in which our freedoms, and indeed our personal freedom, can remain unharmed.
Inner freedom, which includes the level of ego strength, self-esteem or personal confidence we hold, and with which we have pushed through trauma, bad relationships, family drama and dysfunction, is the type of freedom we can control.
Political freedom is sometimes a fast-moving bullet, ricocheting from high to low, which is what we are viewing, in part, currently.
Personal freedom is a sustained and vital aspect of who we are as humans, combining our dreams, talents, strength of conviction, values, and resilience. Add hope and the description is of a strong individual who believes in personal inner freedom.
I believe we can get to that state, all of us, through careful meditation on what we value and love, and what is really important in life. Everyone’s most important value is not the same. It’s completely personal when it’s drilled down a bit. Many will say that the most important thing in life to them is human rights, social justice, family, health, wealth, or one of the many other generalities that captures only a small part of meaning in a life.
That’s why it’s important to take some time by yourself, quiet time if it can be managed, and consider the meaning in your life. Age and stage are most important when looking at what means the most; developmentally we may have different passions and goals at 30 years old than at 55, and that’s actually appropriate. As long as there is a fluidity there, and not a rigid concept of what we are supposed to value, inner freedom can prevail.
Your inner peace, which can be regarded also as peace of mind, can be instrumental in reducing stress, noticing more satisfaction with life, feeling valued and needed, and acknowledging that throughout your life, your strength and sense of inner freedom will sustain you. There may be contentment, even bliss, as the concept of “HOPE” emerges as a constant in your life.
But there may be some work to do before that stage, in part because there are freedoms that are lost, or there is fear of that loss. How can we be content when we may feel that our very lives and livelihood, are in danger of negative and traumatic change. That’s really where hope, and personal inner freedom can prevail. Achieving a sort of peaceful, non-stressed existence sounds out of reach perhaps.
Try one or two small things, to reduce stress, and to use your sense of inner freedom at least weekly. You know how you want to live your life, and inside of you, garner your right to do that, use that sense of how free you can feel.
All that you do in that way now will help get through a tough and somewhat astonishing political and social scene, so that when it spirals back, to a more rational social and political base with our freedom reborn, you will be ready. It will spiral back. Don’t allow the constant bombardment of negative news to harm your sense of inner strength; choose to believe that change can come, will come, and that our collective hope will sustain our inner peace and inner freedom. Cherish your power to choose what’s important in your life.