What Freedom was For

Whether we like it or not, people died to protect our freedom in this country.

They made the ultimate sacrifice for us to live, cried so we could laugh, gave up their freedom so we could use ours for silly things like complaining about traffic in Airdrie.

Venue Church had a special Remembrance Day service merged with a “let’s remember God’s sacrifice too” service (don’t get mad, that’s what we do at church…), and I loved the solemnity and joy we experienced.

Some people might say that sacrifice is only properly honoured by sorrow but I think that it’s more powerful when mixed with gratefulness for what the sacrifice produced. Sacrifice is hard but is only sustained through joy, like the bittersweetness of a marriage that has survived hard times and rejoiced in the good until it moved into a blended experience where the bitter tastes worse but the joys taste even better.

I fear we don’t understand the nature of sacrifice anymore really. I fear that when a sacrifice is called for most of us don’t jump for it because it’s the right thing to do anymore, but ask a tentative “What’s in it for me?”. To ask for a guarantee on investment first shows we’ve lost something we shouldn’t have.

The soldiers who bled and died had no such guarantees. Neither did they ask for them.

I hate that it’s so easy to criticize war and every sacrifice required to keep people free because we were born free. I hate that it’s almost unfashionable to see an older vet and thank them for their service because “What if the person walking past us doesn’t believe in what they fought for?”

Tell you what, I’ll care what they think when they strap their boots on, “screw their courage to a sticking place” (that was Shakespeare because I’m well read), board the plane and offer their lives for my family. Whether you like their cause or not, they’re doing it for you.

We’re just Canadian and need to talk to our new friends who live among us but weren’t lucky enough to be born here. Some of them understand. The closer you are to reality the more it hurts.

It’s more fashionable these days too have a life goal of making everyone think I’m nice rather than to stand up for something worth standing up for. Are we so far gone in our thinking that we’ve forgotten that sacrifice itself in some ways demands respect? It’s just easier to look the other way.

But is that what freedom is for? The right to look the other way?

I believe it means much more than having the freedom to squander our lives away in the endless pursuit of greater pleasure. We’ve become addicted to satisfying our every desire and something alarming has crept in.

To avoid conflict we’ve traded what freedom was meant to buy in the first place:

The Right, Responsibility and Freedom to do what’s right whether corrupt people say yea or nay.

The old countries our grandparents came from denied them the right to do what was right. My grandfather fled the Ukraine to avoid being drafted into some horrible land grabbing war that was more about taking freedom away from people than protecting them.

He came here because it was free, but what that meant to him was the freedom to do what was right and be protected doing it.

Our soldiers’ sacrifice was never meant to be squandered on a people living in the shadow of their true potential from a self centred existence, but rather to spur us on to greatness and sacrifice ourselves for the actual good of humanity.

I feel like we ignore the hard sacrifices because we’re scared of what people might think only to distract ourselves by getting upset about things that wouldn’t even register on the stress – o – meter of those who have come before us.

So I love Remembrance Day. I love teaching my daughters about things that matter. I love the look of awe in their eyes that someone would die for them.

But I love most the steel it puts in their spine to use their freedom to stand up for what’s right and never let that be taken away again.

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