There’s a song that some sing this time of year with full-throated enthusiasm and tears in their eyes, patriotism dripping from their souls, “I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free.”
But this song has always bothered me. It feels like it an empty platitude. The more I hear it, the more it leaves a hollow ring in my heart. Most of all, it leaves me asking some important questions.
- What does American freedom really look like, lived out? Do we really know what this even means?
- Does freedom for you always mean freedom for me?
- For instance, am I a free American if your religious and political convictions prevent me from living my own?
- Am I free if the color of my skin is directly related to the increased risk of my newborn’s death?
- Am I free if I want to love someone but legislation prohibits that love?
- Am I a free American if my elected leaders believe my children are more at risk from a book than a gun?
- Am I free if I experience an increased risk of death at the hands of the police who are sworn to protect me?
- Am I free if my children are stolen from me because of my heritage?
- Am I free if I my level of melanin prevents me from being allowed to buy a house?
- Am I free if I’m caught in the evil world of human trafficking?
Of course there are a million other questions I could ask, but the one that echoes in my head over and over: