Freedom is defined as “the capacity to perform choice, and not being under the domination or control of another; not being bound or enslaved.”
I was born in what some call the Third World, in a little country called Ecuador, about the size of the state of Colorado.
When I first moved to the United States I thought to myself, “This is the country of freedom?” I looked around and all I saw was people working too hard, sometimes two or three jobs, to make ends meet, or to fit a standard of living that they had not chosen themselves, but which had been suggested to them by the media.
I saw people who had the freedom to get credit cards, to then have to pay liberal amounts of interest. I met moms who chose to go to work, even though they had the freedom to stay home, because their neighborhoods were abandoned during the day and there was no one with whom to interact.
I mostly saw people who were good and lived by a set of decent morals and values – nothing like the people in most US TV series or movies — caring people, with good intentions, willing and ready to offer help. I was surprised to see so much natural beauty and so many people with such a strong interest in the environment.
I now realize that compared to some countries in Africa and the Middle East, the US is really a haven for freedom. Compared to most Latin American countries, I am not so sure. (As I write this, I am aware that my perspective comes from living a life of privilege, and not a life of poverty, in South America.)
The only freedom I saw in the US that I didn’t already have in my native Ecuador, was the freedom to publicly criticize or even make fun of the president of the country without getting in immediate trouble. But what good is freedom of speech when you don’t have time to exercise your freedom of thought?
We need to make time in our busy lives to enjoy our blessings, including our freedom. If we feel we desperately need a vacation, maybe it is time to make some changes to our daily lifestyle.
These are some of the best resources I have found to make significant changes in the way we live, which is a direct result from our daily choices:
• The Simplicity Movement – especially the book Circles of Simplicity by Cecile Andrews, which is basically a manual to simplify your life in order to live your passions, while at the same time building friendships and stronger communities.
• The book Making Room for Life by Randy Frazee.
Our family has made choices that baffle some of the people who know us. I started saving money four years before I got pregnant to get the equipment that would enable me to work from home and stay with the children. We homeschool. My husband left a job managing a Chiropractic practice for a large corporation to open a home based practice, so he can be close to us and not miss the children growing up. As a result of our decisions, which where somewhat “against the current” of ordinary choices in the United States, our wealth, happiness and quality of life have increased.
I invite you to explore ways in which your own life might be simplified. I invite you to live a life that responds to your own values and standards and not to what other people have led you to believe will make you happy.