by Carolyn Trower

Freedom, it’s what we all want. Freedom to live where we choose, marry who we choose, work the job we choose. Freedom to make and listen to “our” music, to dress the way we want, to read what we want. The list goes on and on.

Young people want to choose their friends, stay out past curfew, and experiment with alcohol and “free love.” Adults want to set boundaries that will ensure both the teenager’s safety and the adults’ sanity.
There’s a saying, “You are free to choose, but you are not free from the consequences of that choice.” I used that one a lot when I taught. You don’t want to do your homework or study, fine; don’t argue with me about your grade. The same can be said about working. You miss too many days or do sloppy work, don’t be surprised when you’re fired.

Everyone wants their freedom, but that freedom comes at a cost. Freedom to travel usually has to wait until you’ve worked 30-40 years and retire before you can hit the road. Freedom to live in a nice house – 30 years of paying a mortgage. Freedom to enjoy your kids and grandkids – years of good parenting to establish those relationships.

Those of us lucky enough to be Americans enjoy so many freedoms, freedoms even “civilized” European countries don’t enjoy. Yes, our cities are crowded with the homeless and unemployed, but there are agencies and churches who seek them out with food and shelter. Rural areas are often below the poverty line, but that depends on how you define poverty. The number of local food banks stocked only by the generosity of the community increases every day. Clothing drives, coat collections, and benefits ensure the community’s less fortunate are fed and clothed.

Some of our local men and women have chosen to serve in the military, on the police force, in the fire department, and with the EMS crews. They use their freedom of choice to guard and protect the citizens they serve.

Those who have chosen the path of a pastor give every day and twice on Sunday. They nourish their flocks spiritually as well as make sure the earthly needs of the poor are met.

Teachers and coaches, much like those who pastor, have chosen a profession out of love and a desire to nurture the student; in the classroom, on the field or court, and in many extracurricular activities.

Most of the good citizens of Ralls County and the country in general have chosen to be generous and to share the benefits of their freedom with others. These freedoms are a result of others’ sacrifices and choices. They are not to be taken lightly.

Our responsibility lies in not only sharing our freedom with others, but in ensuring our young people follow our example. Perhaps the ripple effect will catch up one day and there will be freedom for all.