Via Basel: Freedom and the Fourth of July

The Evolution of Peace, by Paulo Sergio Zerbato

Franklin Delano Roosevelt famously mentioned the four freedoms: Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Worship, Freedom from Want, and Freedom from Fear.

As we approach the 4th of July, Independence Day, a celebration of the beginnings of our nation’s freedom from an oppressive colonial power, I struggle with the concept of “freedom.”

Is it embodied in the above quote from FDR from his State of the Union address on January 6, 1941? 

Is it mostly external, related to outside conditions imposed on us, or primarily internal, dependent on our disposition, mental resilience, and well being?

To what extent do we experience it today in our nation, enough to be encroaching on others’ freedom or limited in several sections of our populace?  

Are we really free when the world is awash with elaborate attempts at spreading falsehoods and uncorroborated information? Is truth relative or absolute? 

What further limitations can we expect on our privacy and modes of expression by new rules and emerging technologies?  

All of these are weighty inquiries for which I cannot give justice by even attempting to discuss in a limited-content column like this.

What I can suggest is this:

Learn, read, from a variety of sources, and keep an open mind without cynicism or despair.

Challenge your previously held assumptions and fixed beliefs periodically.

Maintain a calm attitude along with being civil and respectful in your engagement with others of different viewpoints.

Nurture a mindfulness practice to assist in freeing yourself from being run by emotions and perceptions.

Finally, continue the lineage of humanist freethinking, inquiry, and hope of the last seven hundred years as magnificently told by Sarah Bakewell in her recent book titled Humanly Possible.

Have a free fourth of July.  

Basel Al-Aswad, father of EIL founder Christopher Al-Aswad, is a yogi trapped in an Orthopedic Surgeon’s body. His loves in life include reading, writing, hiking, enjoying nature, meditation, and spending time with his large Iraqi family, and now, semi-retired, he is exploring new avenues in medicine, education, public speaking, teaching, and social engagement.

FDR Library: The Four Freedoms

Humanly Possible by Sarah Bakewell

More art by Paulo Sergio Zerbato

2 responses to “Via Basel: Freedom and the Fourth of July”

  1. Carmelita says:

    A lovely read, good reminders for staying grounded and in harmonious balance.

  2. Joseph Kilikevice says:

    Well said Basel. Civility and respect, that caught my eye among the other wonderful qualities you mention. Respect I feel is the quality upon which we stand that can make all the others qualities possible. May our country be blessed on this day with survival as a nation founded on freedom.

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