Freedom in America

Almost 250 years ago, our forefathers and foremothers fought for our nations’ freedom.  As we head into the July 4th weekend, and with the Supreme Court Dobbs case last week overturning the 50-year-old landmark Roe v Wade case, there are many people (both women and men) who are having legitimate concerns about whether there is true freedom in the United States.

I was just graduating from high school in 1973, the year of Roe v Wade, so this landmark case is the only thing I’ve ever known.  Women having federal protection and the freedom to make decisions about their own bodies is all I have ever known, and the only thing my two daughters and their friends have ever known.

It is quite alarming to consider the implications of this ruling.  The ruling has pushed the issue back to the state level. Living in California, I’m far less likely to see this decision roll back; therefore, my concern goes out to the citizens living in states where rulings are already shifting away from women’s reproductive rights. This ruling largely affects minority groups in America, especially those with limited support systems.

So, I had to do, what I have found myself doing in the last few years, when confronted with difficult times and decisions.  I channel my inner “Frieda”.  My mom, Frieda always provided a sensible reaction in challenging times.  Born in 1923, her own parents escaped to the U.S. from Russia after WWI, seeking freedom and independence. During college, she witnessed the horrific scenes unfolding for her Japanese American friends after the Pearl Harbor attack, as they were sent to internment camps solely because of their heritage.

Right now, my mom would have emphasized the importance of being an active citizen.  Don’t sit on the sidelines.

Register to vote.  Get your friends to register to vote.  Support experienced and existing organizations doing the hard work. Offer to drive people to polling places on election day, so they can vote.  Make donations to candidates in other states who support the same issues which are important to you, so more like-minded people will be elected to the US Congress and Senate.

I am reminded of a quote from my all-time favorite movie, “The American President”, starring Michael Douglas and Annette Bening:

“America isn’t easy. America is advanced citizenship. You’ve gotta want it bad, cause it’s gonna put up a fight. It’s gonna say ‘You want free speech? Let’s see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, and who’s standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours.’ You want to claim this land as the land of the free? Then the symbol of your country cannot just be a flag. The symbol also has to be one of its citizens exercising his right to burn that flag in protest. Now show me that, defend that, celebrate that in your classrooms. Then you can stand up and sing about the land of the free.”

On this Independence Day weekend, I challenge each of us to make a list of 5-10 things we can do in the weeks and months to come to make sure our voice is heard, and to support the companies and organizations who support freedom.  My hats are off to companies like Kroger, Dick’s Sporting Goods and Apple who are already taking a stand to voice their support for freedom.

And of course, I’ll be wearing red, white and blue all weekend to be a visible beacon of freedom.  How about you?

Karen