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Trying to move from panic to calm

Today we celebrate our nations independence. What that really means is, we celebrate the fact that as a nation we stood up to what we felt was an oppressive regime to gain our own sovereignty.

Today we say that we celebrate freedom. But what does that really mean? Although this experiment in democracy was designed so that all men are created equal, the reality is that many people have never been included in those freedoms. Black, Brown and Indigenous people have never enjoyed the same freedom as white Americans.

I guess to some degree, I took the freedoms, that I thought were inherent, for granted. It wasn’t until Roe v. Wade was overturned and women no longer had power over their own bodies and could no longer decide when they wanted to reproduce that I realized the fragility of the freedom I took for granted.

I’m well beyond child-bearing years. Sadly I was never able to get pregnant. But the wide-spread implications of no longer having authority over my own body and choices, relegating me to a second class citizen with less rights is jarring to say the least. Never in the history of America has a constitutional right been stripped away from it’s citizens. Regardless of what side of the argument you’re on, you have to admit there had to be a better solution than stripping all women of their rights.

Next the court further stripped away Indigenous rights. This country was and is their land. Stolen from them.

Now we wait for the decisions removing LGBTQ+ and trans rights.

And I wonder on this day celebrating freedom when it will end? Will we lose the right to vote? Will we lose the right to own property? Will this democracy crumble? It’s a slippery slope. I wonder if all of this is born out of a need to win at all costs? or if the people funding these decisions really think this is what’s best, even when the majority doesn’t agree.

I want to rise up and fight. The people forcing these decisions don’t represent the majority of Americans. They are the minority. They are a rogue faction pushing extreme Christian ideals on the masses.

But the truth is, that this minority is heavily armed and angry. This nation seems to care more about guns than people.

Yesterday I ran to Kroger to pick up a few items. It was 100 degrees with high humidity. As I walked from my car to the door I see a couple getting out of a pick up truck. The windows on the truck were barely cracked and inside I see a dog, already panting heavily. Without thinking of the consequences, I ask the lady “You’re not planning to be in the store long with the dog in the car are you?” She smiles and says “Oh no, we’re just picking up one item.” But then calls her husband over to tell him what I said. Luckily he was not in the mood to fight, but she clearly wanted him to. She kept pointing me out as they entered the store. I felt so uncomfortable, realizing that in TN they could legally be carrying any weapon and I could end up dead. Nervously, I grabbed a few items and rushed out. The man had headed back out to his truck to sit in the air conditioning with the dog. I guess they feared I’d call the police. But the situation struck me, I’m terrified to do what I consider to be the right thing, I’m normally terrified to open my mouth and speak up, I’m terrified to protest, I’m terrified to do what’s needed to change the situation because everyone is armed and ready to fight.

Is that really freedom?

I worry that my freedom of speech, my freedom of religion, my freedom of choice are all stifled by my fear of heavily armed and angry Americans.

Everyone is entitled to their freedoms - including owning guns - but they aren’t entitled to infringe upon the rights of others. At least that’s how it used to be in America. That seems to have changed.

So I sit here on Independence day, contemplating the future. Will our democracy fall to an autocracy or authoritarian rule. I think that’s a distinct possibility. I’m not celebrating today. I’m mourning the loss of what we took for granted and let slip through out fingers. I mourn for the loss of my voice and convictions. I mourn for the generations after us and what they’ll have to endure.

These are my own personal feelings. Maybe you feel differently. And that’s okay. There used to be room for more than one opinion. I hope we can get back to that.

In the meantime, I’ll work to spread love and hope and joy where I can in any way that I can - while trying to stay safe and keep my family safe.

I hope that out of the panic, you can find calm. I hope that whatever you believe you can find common ground with your neighbor. I hope that we can all work together to make this nation free for everyone - not just a chosen few. Let's work together to move from panic to calm.

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