As I look at where our country stands today and think about having just celebrated July 4th, I wanted to take a moment to look back at what “freedom” actually means to me.

It means:

• Freedom from government-encouraged hatred, from government-initiated prejudice, from government-sponsored lies, and from the physical, mental and emotional abuse we have endured from those who swore to guide and protect us.
• Freedom from fear of harm just because of the color of our skin.
• Freedom to openly love who we want, without roadblocks, regardless of gender.
• Freedom too be our true gender, without groundless and evil restrictions, despite what birth has dealt us.
• Freedom to live without labels and the prejudice that inevitably attaches to those labels.

If one person lacks freedom, then we all do, because we are the connected children of God. And that is much more valuable than being the child of any one nation. Immigrant, homeless, GLBT, black, brown, woman, marginalized, etc. — those who cry out in the wilderness, as yet unheard — they deserve freedom.

ALL deserve freedom.

Freedom is not some man-made gift. Freedom is a right, given by God yet so often decimated or obliterated by man.

Freedom is not passive. It requires action to preserve.

Freedom is always at risk, for there are those among us today who see freedom as a threat to their power; they fear it and will seek to crush it.

And so, if this nation is to survive as a beacon to others, freedom must be nurtured and protected — now, more than ever.

This is what freedom means to me in 2018.