Independence Day Excerpt from “Lessons for Joey”

There’s no better day to post a free chapter about celebrating freedoms than on the day we Americans celebrate our nation’s independence. Enjoy…

#34 – Freedom is a right not to be taken lightly. Execute, but don’t abuse.

#34-webAs you grow and experience more, I hope you’ll come to understand how fortunate you are to have the freedoms you have. Even though we believe it’s the right of all to be free, not everyone is. For us, it’s a right that we’re entitled to, but it wasn’t always that way. And, in some parts of the world it still isn’t. You have the ability to spend each day doing whatever you want (as long as it’s within the law), and that is a privilege not to be taken for granted. Many people died fighting to earn those rights for you, and it’s an everyday struggle to maintain them. Knowing about your freedoms is not enough; they’re something you should take advantage of as well.

When I say take advantage of your freedoms, I don’t mean abuse them. I mean put them to use. Vote when you have the chance. Travel to different places. Choose a career that makes you happy. The course your life takes is entirely up to you and within your control. Sometimes it’s scary to think about it like that, because that’s a lot of pressure to put on yourself. But really, would you want it any other way? When you call the shots, the responsibility is on you to make it work, but you also don’t have as many hurdles to jump over. With this model, you are your biggest obstacle. Sure, things could be better than they are. We do have some flawed systems. But nothing is ever really perfect. And, despite the imperfections, there are certainly more than enough opportunities for you to find happiness. You have the right to enjoy life.

It’s natural, when we are afforded a little space, to try to test its limits. Just like a child checking to see how much he or she can get away with, we push the boundaries of our freedoms. This can slowly lead to exploitation, and before long the rights are abused. Unfortunately, when abuse takes place, those who afford the freedoms—whether it’s parents toward their children or a government toward its population—tend to have a knee-jerk reaction, and they pull back the reigns even further than before. Trust becomes an issue, and any progress is damaged if not lost. At that point, there is even more ground to make up just to get back to where you were.

The opportunity to control your own destiny and create the life you want is a wonderful thing. It might be the greatest thing. For those that subscribe to the theory of Carpe Diem, this is what it’s all about. You have been given permission to seize the day and to make it your own. The means to attack life are at your disposal. You are free to live as you wish. As a result, you owe it to yourself to settle for nothing less than what makes you happy. This means putting those freedoms to good use. It means maximizing your opportunities and it means doing so in a way that does not exploit those privileges. Freedom is a right not to be taken lightly. It can be taken from you as quickly as it’s given. Execute, but don’t abuse.

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