Aspen Times Weekly: What does FREEDOM mean to you?
With the Fourth of July upon us, we decided to reflect a bit on what exactly we — as Americans — celebrate on this most American of holidays: FREEDOM.
So we asked a cross-section of the Aspen community, including our own staff, “What does FREEDOM mean to you?” The answers we received are as diverse as our nation itself, with every individual sharing his or her own thoughts and feelings. And this, it seems, is its own definition of FREEDOM.
So as you gather together with friends and family on this Fourth of July — over BBQ and beers, while watching parades and fireworks — we encourage you take a moment to remember why we celebrate this holiday…and to share with others what FREEDOM means to you.
To me, it means choice: the freedom to make a good choice, or a bad one; to choose how I want to live as a good citizen of this planet; to opt for the candidate I’m most aligned with in an election; and to determine by my own free will what I do each day and with whom I do it.
CINDY HIRSCHFELD, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, SOJOURNER MAGAZINE
What does freedom mean to me? It means everything. It means the world. It means more than I could ever really encapsulate here. But I can say that I feel blessed to have been born into a country where my vote counts, my opinions are accepted and my government isn’t trying to kill me (that I know of, anyway.)
I cherish my right to free speech and freedom of the press. I’m grateful that we have a fourth estate — it’s essential in keeping our elected officials and those who work for them honest. I think about citizens in countries like China or North Korea where they are told how and what to think. And the only information they receive about the world and its citizens is spoon-fed propaganda by their governments. Suppression at its worst.
I often think about how blessed I am to be free based on the atrocities others are experiencing. Years ago, a co-worker had a column penned by journalist Amy Goodman that was pinned to his bulletin board. It was about women in Africa who were victims of genital mutilation. He had it there to remind himself that when he thought he was having a bad day, there are tens of millions of people who have it worse. So, however messed up our country may be at this moment in time, i’ll take messy freedom any day.
CAROLYN SACKARIASON, NEWS DIRECTOR, ASPEN PUBLIC RADIO
Freedom. What a beautiful word! Liberation from the control of some other person or power. A gift to be cherished. But wow, it sure comes with a great price. The war continues to be fought to maintain our freedoms – freedom of speech, freedom of education, and freedom of religion – things not to be taken for granted. We are truly blessed to be Americans and have these rights. And I am so very proud of the men and women who have laid down their lives so the rest of us can be free. With freedom comes responsibility. Envied by many, challenged by some – we have a duty to preserve it, but it’s not free. Let’s not forget that or forget those who have served so we can remain free.
SHERYL BARTO, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, SMILING GOAT RANCH,
USING HORSES TO HELP CHILDREN WITH AUTISM AND VETERANS WITH PTSD
After living most of my adult life in the United States, I have finally made the leap to apply for American citizenship, so this is a question I must now think about more than at any other time in my life. And while I don’t expect the freedoms I value — freedom for myself and my family to pursue quality education, satisfying careers, and the many other pursuits that make up a quality life —to change too much, I very much recognize that for too many people around the world, and even in our own valley, do not have the same freedoms, because of the color of their skin, their sex or gender identification, and in too many instances simply because of where they’re born. So for me the freedoms I and my family enjoy equate to gratitude, while I feel even more the weight of the lack of other people’s freedoms.
CATHERINE LUTZ, FREELANCER WRITER
Like the air we breath, our freedom is taken for granted. And, like the air we breath, it is something that should require both our attention and our diligence.
Freedom is what allows us to live the lives we lead — no matter what we do. It gives us the opportunity to decide, for ourselves the course of our daily activities and the direction of ours and our families lives.
In all of history just a tiny percentage of human kind has been bestowed with the rights that we have been given to live free. For less than 300 years Americans have not only lived free but also have spread the concept of a free spirit around the globe.
Today, the very tenants of Liberty and freedom are under peril in many places on earth. Now more than at any other time in our lives we need to embrace our freedom.
Like the air we breath, freedom is vital to our very existence.
KELLY J. HAYES, COLUMNIST,
ASPEN TIMES WEEKLY
Freedom is a gift bestowed upon us by our founding fathers that was bought and paid for and given unto us by the patriots that came before us: Freedom allows us to lay our heads on our pillows each night and rest easy knowing that someone is keeping watch, being the guardian protecting us and protecting our freedoms…
Freedom is the opportunity to figure out who we are and not be forced into a particular mold. To try new things, make mistakes, learn from those mistakes, grow from what we learned and become something better. Freedom is this opportunity to become who you want; freedom offers hope, freedom offers dreams, and freedom offers choices.
Those who came before were not willing to be complacent, and they were ready to face down tyranny of those who would oppress these opportunities. We too have a responsibility to protect and preserve this way of life, to carry on the traditions and responsibilities given unto us by our forefathers. We have a responsibility, should our freedoms be challenged, to face down those who would oppose them, both as communities and as individuals.
What does freedom mean to me? It means I have the opportunity to choose to enjoy “The American Dream”, whatever The dream may mean to me, and you have the same opportunity whoever you are to make that dream real for you.
JAMES A. VAN BEEK, SHERIFF, EAGLE COUNTY
Freedom is a fight, a fight to maintain our public lands so that all Americans may enjoy them and not see them privatized, a fight for women to keep their reproductive health care, a fight to keep others religions from dictating how one lives, a fight to maintain ones privacy in the digital age. Freedom only reigns when the public is involved, viligent and willing to fight to keep their freedoms.
PITKIN COUNTY COMMISSIONER
Freedom is the ability to enjoy personal liberty without threat or interference from someone else, and consequently the willingness to accept limitations on conduct that might impair another’s personal liberty.
PITKIN COUNTY JUDGE
Freedom is a platform for individualism. And individualism is not independentence from society. But, the enabling to contribute to an open society. “ONLY… LOVE CHANGES EVERYTHING.”
JAY JORENDA, READER,
THE ASPEN TIMES
Freedom means a lot of things to me. It means national security and protection from evils in this world such as terrorism. Freedom means having the ability and the means to follow my version of the American dream. Freedom means having a military ready to protect and serve our country, with a commander-in-chief qualified to make sound decisions for when that’s necessary and appropriate. Freedom means patriotism, love, education, success. More importantly, I think freedom means peace.
LAUREN GLENDENNING, EDITOR,
THE ASPEN TIMES
Freedom means waking up on Saturday morning with no plans and anything i can dream up is an option.
Freedom means choosing the people i want to spend time with and knowing that the only repercussions are those related to my choices.
Freedom is hopping on an airplane and traveling to anywhere in the world. Tomorrow.
Freedom is watching a concert at the belly up and not worrying about who or what will come through the front door to interrupt my fun.
Freedom is cocktails on the sundeck, throwing sticks for murphy at marolt pond, dipping my toes in the river at herron park, coming in to work late after hot yoga and a jour de fete breakfast burrito, and sitting on the grass with a picnic and listening to classical music roll out of benedict music tent.
Freedom is living my life without fear of reprisal.
SAMANTHA JOHNSTON, PUBLISHER, THE ASPEN TIMES
Freedom provides one and all with an equal opportunity for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Among those freedoms i so greatly cherish — freedom of speech, which allows for expressing what we feel and think through the written or spoken word, and freedom of choice, which allows for deciding how to lead our lives to be our best selves.
MAY SELBY, COLUMNIST, ASPEN TIMES WEEKLY
Freedom is listening to diana ross under the stars outside the benedict music tent after a day hiking the lost man trail on … independence pass.
DALE STRODE, SPORTS EDITOR, THE ASPEN TIMES
To me, freedom is the ability to wake up each morning and lead the life I chose to live. It means having been able to attend college, study what I wanted to (journalism), and pursue a career in the field of my choice. My aunt, who I’m convinced can do anything, told me recently how she always wanted to be a journalist, but that women weren’t allowed to study journalism at the time that she went to school. As a 23-year-old American-born citizen, this realization that someone I am related to and look up to experienced such sexual discrimination firsthand was shocking. I think it can be challenging for young Americans to fully grasp this notion of freedom, and what it means to be free, simply because it is all we know. Consequently, I think it is more important than ever that we take the time to acknowledge and appreciate our freedom and the privileges we enjoy within the context of other nations and our predecessors. Travel abroad, read international news, engage in meaningful conversations with foreigners and elders seek other perspectives and understand our past. I think this is also critical in ensuring that as a country, we are conscious in our decisions that will allow us to continue moving forward in our fight for freedom.
ERICA ROBBIE, REPORTER, THE ASPEN TIMES
Freedom is the spectacular gift of being able to choose anything, absolutely anything you wish, and the responsibility of making choices in a way that benefit not only you but the entire world.
BILL LINN, ASSISTANT CHIEF, ASPEN POLICE DEPARTMENT
I’ve never thought freedom meant much unless you appreciated it. Often we’re like fish that don’t know what water is. Every morning I wake up and thank God I’m not in elementary school. For me that was a form of bondage. But what if I didn’t realize how lucky I am? My life would be less rich. Americans, we can get grumpy, we get into a state where we complain about everything.
July 4 is a good reset. Reading George Orwell or Kafka, or the Diary of Anne Frank, these people fully understood creeping surveillance, arbitrary abuse of power, self-fueling bureaucracy, and the corruption of ideology. Their books are mostly nightmares, they terrify me, because they show how close society always is to tipping that way. But you put those books down, you look around, and it’s like waking from a terrible dream. Wow. This is awesome. This coffee tastes great. This sky in so blue. Every day is a gift here in America: we’re unencumbered. So what are our obligations, what do we owe in return? I think about that a lot.
ASPEN SKIING CO.
Freedom is the ability:
To speak your mind without fear of repercussion from others or government
To love and marry who you want without judgement
To pray and worship without retaliation because of your belief
To disagree and protest without fear of violence
To vote and have a voice in government
To not be persecuted because of your country of origin, skin color or accent
When you can be yourself without the judgment from others you are truly free
JOE DISALVO, SHERIFF, PITKIN COUNTY
Freedom to me means having choices, opportunities, and equality.
MARILYN SELTZER, CAREER CONSULTANT
To me freedom means doing what the creator intended for us to do. He says “do this and live”.
He gives us a choice to choose blessing or choose curse. He gave us the blueprint in his word, the bible. It is his love letter to us and an invitation to eternity with him. Where the spirit of the lord, is there is freedom.
These are his words, not mine, yet he has made it clear we are to share this good news, called the gospel. I pray this will encourage you to know where to find true freedom and hope in any seemingly hopeless situation. He absolutely loves you totally unconditionally. He desires to spend eternity with you. He waits with open arms. Religion means “to bind up”. This is true freedom, choosing to do what was intended for us. Jesus died for each of us. We are his Art work!!!!
PAM FISHER, FORMER TEACHER
To me freedom means everything; the opportunity to live where we want, to travel where we want, to study what we want and to be anything we want — the possibilities are endless. I am eternally thankful beyond words to all of the soldiers that are fighting to keep this country free, it is the greatest sacrifice there is. Freedom is a luxury.
ASHTON HEWITT, MAGAZINE AND SPECIAL PROJECTS DIRECTOR, THE ASPEN TIMES
Freedom, taken as an absolute, should mean equal rights for all. That hasn’t been the case in this country, but strides are being made, albeit gradually. As a white, heterosexual, recovering Catholic male born and living in America, my ilk and I have enjoyed more freedom than others living in this land. I only hope that other people — whatever their persuasions, pursuits, genders, beliefs and ethnicities — are afforded the same liberties and rights that I was given, simply because of my race, gender and sexual orientation. Make American great again? How about we start by making the playing field level for all. Sadly, this should be a non-issue. Hopefully one day it will be, so the more pressing and neglected topics get their just attention.
RICK CARROLL, MANAGING EDITOR, THE ASPEN TIMES
I like literal, universal definitions for simple words. But I also think it’s nice as a human being to be able to breathe and laugh deeply and know that whatever might be trying to restrain you — physically, financially or socially — it can’t hold down your mind and your soul. As long as you’re breathing, those things are free.
EVAN GIBBARD, PRODUCTION MANAGER, THE ASPEN TIMES
I figured why invent the wheel when it comes to defining freedom. There are a lot of good quotes, but George Washington said it best, “If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.”
Then there’s always Mark Twain to tell it the wittiest. Here’s a quote from him on freedom: “It is by the goodness of God that in our country we have those three unspeakably precious things: freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, and the prudence never to practice either of them.”
Despite those words of wisdom from two wise men, I personally like Greta Garbo’s definition. She said, “I never said, ‘I want to be alone.’ I only said, ‘I want to be left alone!’ There is all the difference.”
SCOTT CONDON, REPORTER,
THE ASPEN TIMES
Freedom means learning from your mistakes, having your own canvas to paint and being responsible for your actions. Freedom is being in charge of your life, health and happiness.
My grandma used to always tell me “you are responsible for your own happiness,” and
I think that sums up freedom.
HANK CARTER, OUTSIDE SALES ACCOUNT MANAGER, THE ASPEN TIMES
To me freedom means having choices…whether it is choosing where to live, what I do for a living, what to eat, what to wear, where to travel. Having the freedom to take care of my body, mind and soul as I see fit. Knowing I can decide my own future, knowing my daughters can decide THEIR own future…if they want to be professional golfers or join the fire department, become ballerinas or stay at home and raise their own babies. Freedom to me is choice and having choice is empowering.
LOUISE WALKER, MULTI MEDIA MARKETING CONSULTANT,
THE ASPEN TIMES
Freedom is: an open road with no itinerary nor obligations, a full tank of gas and a pocketful
AMANDA RAE, COLUMNIST, ASPEN TIMES WEEKLY
A flatbed truck comes careening around the corner and I jump back to safety. There’s a long bench down the center of the truck’s bed with two rows of black convicts seated back to back, a total of maybe twenty men in chains, their bodies swaying with the lurching movement of the truck. The white guard in the passenger side of the cab is holding a shotgun. He stares at me, one of the convicts gives me a glance and then, with a roaring sound, the truck accelerates around the next curve and disappears.
That was hitchhiking through Mississippi in 1964.
Now it’s June 12, 2016, and my oldest son, my two grandsons and I are having grilled catfish and po-boy sandwiches at Jake and Rip’s in Grenada, Mississippi. Deneshea or “Dee” is our waitress, a cheerful, hard-working black woman who looks like she’s only a teenager.
“Where do you go to school?” I ask.
“I’m a senior at Old Miss and I’m majoring in speech pathology,” she answers, a young woman free to grow and prosper, free from the chains that imprisoned her ancestors.
MORGAN SMITH, CONTRIBUTOR,
ASPEN TIMES WEEKLY
Being free is having the option and means to disengage from things that cause worry, stress, anxiety, and fear, enabling peace of mind and heart that leads to a good night’s sleep. Sometimes you can do this on your own, but lots of times it’s a group project and you need help from others who seek the same. I know I am truly free when I am truly happy. I suppose that means freedom is happiness.
ROGER MAROLT, COLUMNIST, THE ASPEN TIMES & SNOWMASS SUN
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