When I was at BYU studying journalism, one of the required courses was Media Law. It was an interesting class, and the professor, Dr. Ralph Barney, was a retired newspaper editor. One day we came into class and he asked us a question. "What is a one word definition of freedom?"
We all shouted out our answers; noble, lofty words like liberty, justice, mercy. Then Dr. Barney turned and wrote on the board the word: Alternatives. This lesson has always stuck with me. Isn't this exactly what freedom means? That we have the choices to make, on our own, what we want in and with our lives.
We can go to a chapel, a mosque or a synagogue or even sit in a forest glen and worship as we choose, if we choose. We can decide for ourselves how we spend our lives, be it as a butcher, baker or candlestick maker. It's up to us. If the president goes on television to speak, I can listen to him or not. For that matter I can agree with him or not. It's your choice. You want to live in Florida or Kansas, go for it! It's all up to you.
But I have been thinking today of the freedom that I enjoy as a woman. So many women around the world are unable to have alternatives in their lives. The choice to get married and who to marry; to have children, how many children to have; and what to think. I don't always appreciate my life. If I want to wear shorts and a t-shirt I can, or makeup or short hair, or to read romance novels and listen to bluegrass music. Pierced ears or a tatoo or nothing at all. All those choices I have and they're mine to make.
I am so grateful to the men and women who forged the way for us. Who came to this land and survived, and died, to create a country where these freedoms, these choice, these alternatives are available for us today. As we celebrate with our BBQs or fried chicken; taking a hike or going for a swim; hanging with your family and friends, or spending it in solitary reflection -- may we all appreciate that it's up to us. Not only how we celebrate this holiday, but how we live our lives.
Happy Indenpendence Day!