Do You Know What Freedom Is?

Freedom means you are unobstructed in living your life as you choose. Anything less is a form of slavery. -- Wayne Dyer

Someone recently asked us how they celebrate the Fourth of July in Cambodia, where we are spending this American Independence Day.  It just goes to show that some people don't even know what they're celebrating anymore.

Here's a funny 'man on the street' segment from last year proving this point:

So this Independence Day, we feel it's important to define what freedom means to us. But, first, I'll tell you what freedom isn't. It isn't celebrating once-a-year with beer and fireworks about America declaring independence from England 236 years ago.  That has very little to do with defining individual freedom in 2012.

The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution are vital to be remembered, and just their existence sets America apart from most nations in how we define rights and freedom.  But, just as most Americans have forgotten (or never learned) the Constitution, so have the lawmakers.

With the overwhelming onslaught of rules and regulations resulting in the largest prison population in the world, America should hardly be considered the "land of the free".

"We are fast approaching the stage of ultimate inversion: the stage where government is free to do as it pleases, while the citizens may act only by permission." - Ayn Rand

By the way, do you have a permit for those fireworks?  Nobody would even understand this question in Latin America or Asia.  They would laugh if an official started demanding such things.

I don't want to come off as anti-America because, as Americans, we are much more fortunate than many people's of the world -- not just in physical wealth, but also in our beliefs.  By beliefs, I mean the belief that we are able to achieve anything we put our mind to.  There is immense value to that concept which most of the rest of the world simply doesn't possess.

Additionally, as Americans, we are able to freely travel to most countries of the world because our passport is granted easy access.  So, it's not all bad to be American compared to most other nationalities.

Yet, the freedom to be unobstructed to "live your life as you choose" is unquestionably deteriorating in America.  Whether it's government laws and regulations or economics, the majority of people seem to feel trapped within confines of their 9-5 lifestyle.

It's a lifestyle of dependence; dependence on your company for a job and health insurance, dependence on government assistance or social security, dependence on debt and credit cards, water companies, electric companies, factory food, etc.  The list goes on and on.

As Thomas Jefferson wrote, "Dependence begets subservience and venality, suffocates the germ of virtue, and prepares fit tools for the designs of ambition."

Real freedom is primarily about choices. And although choices may appear to becoming systematically eliminated, we always have choices.  Remember, Americans believe we can do anything.  Where there's a will, there's still a way. Thankfully.

We are free because we choose to be.

Personally, we travel the world unobstructed, work for ourselves, homeschool the kids, and generally do what we want.  Our goal is to make everyday feel like Saturday.  Living our lifestyle in America would be difficult-to-impossible in many ways, from high cost living to restrictions on homeschoolers. In other words, there are obstructions to our freedom there.

So we chose a life of adventure, traveling the world as digital nomads.  We're lucky enough to make our money independently so we have the freedom to travel.  But, significantly, we "decided" to choose freedom over conformity.

"Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth." -- John F. Kennedy

We are not unique.  Everyone can choose to be less dependent on the system and become more self-reliant.

With each step you make towards the goal of being self-sufficient, the more free you become.  The less dependent you are, the more choices you have.  

It's that simple.

Don't expect governments to give you more freedom.  As we've witnessed in recent years, they can only remove freedom.  Only you can define what freedom means to you and then pursue that path in your personal life and through broader activism.

So this American Independence Day 2012, take the time to reflect on what individual freedom means to you and go after it.  It's yours for the taking.

See what other nomadic families have to say about freedom:

Let Freedom Ring- Gabi @ The Nomadic Family 

Are we free-Heather @ Living Differently 

The Freedom to Choose - Living Outside of the Box

Freedom and straying off the beaten path - Barts go adventuring 

Living a Free and Meaningful Life - Bethaney @ Flashpacker Family 

Freedom to Roam - Diya at a minor diversion

What is Freedom? - Nancy @ Family on Bikes 

Free Falling - Melissa at Break Out of Bushwick

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  1. Oh wow - I feel so much better about me not knowing about american history now after seeing that Youtube clip! That has really surprised me, I'd have thought everyone would know. Kind of sad too though.

    Really enjoyed this post :) Go take that freedom!

    1. It truly is a sad thing! It makes a strong comment about Americans but more so about the education system in America I think. History is so important to be educated in in order to make a better future!

  2. Isn't it so interesting to see how differently everyone has taken to writing about freedom? Not one of these posts is the same.

    I love your comment about living every day as if it's a Saturday. That's how we feel too. In fact, when it is a Saturday, we feel like everyone is encroaching on our space so much so that we avoid doing activities on a Saturday because, unlike everyone else, we don't HAVE to. Where is the real value in only spending one day a week doing the things you enjoy?

    The lifestyle you've created with your family is fantastic. Do you like America? If you could live the way you do now, at home, would you?

    We're actually thinking of taking ourselves to the US because it's cheaper than being in NZ and there is so much to explore. It's such a vast country that it feels much more "free" than NZ. I now feel very isolated and penned in down here. NZ and Australia are a lot more socialist than the US, Australia in particular, so we feel a definite sense of freedom in the US. I think it would be a good place to live and travel if we had the funds to do so.

    1. Yes I agree, usually on Sat. we stay at home rather than battle crowds. We enjoy everyday like it was the weekend, I wish more people could see that they could too:)

      We do love the uS, we love what it should stand for, and the immense benefits we all gained by being lucky enough to be born there. It is a beautiful country with amazing landscapes and the area that we lived was a wonderful beautiful spot for raising a family. That being said there are very few personal freedoms. I don't imagine it is any worse or better then the UK, Australia, or NZ. We don't live there for many reasons. One being that we couldn't reproduce what we are doing here, there because it is just too expensive. The culture is one based in fear and consumerism, 2 things we want nothing to do with. I don't recommend that you live there but certainly a visit and trip around the states would be fantastic!

      What freedoms do you think you would have in the US that you do not have in NZ or Australia? Just because they tout being free doesn't mean it is:)

  3. I used to live in Japan and my wife is Japanese. Wasn't in the military so I'll get that out of the way. While living there I found you could purchase fireworks any time of the year from your local convenience store and shoot them off whenever you wished. Not that people did, because they usually reserved those fire popping moments for the festivals and such, but they at least had the "freedom" to. Which was surprising considering how many laws there are in Japan. Flash forward to the "land of the free" and you'd think they just might as well ban the damn things for all the whining and "laws" about them. Another amazing contrast, and I have to remind myself this was in the late '80s, were the vending machines that served literally everything imaginable. One could find devices serving up rice, batteries, frozen meat, ice cream, you name it! The ultimate was one in which you could get cold canned beer with a whiskey chaser mixed in the can! No license required, nobody to pester you about your age (I'm 50 by the way and been hassled in the States to no end), no drunks passed out at the feet of the box, nothing! I'm not saying I never saw a drunk wobbling on the train platform late Friday night but they were so few and far between I could only count them on one hand in three years. Talk about a feeling of freedom! If they were here you'd hear howls of the damned from socialist busybodies to no end. Bitterly ironic? You bet.

    1. I totally agree!! We have visited almost 10 new "developing" countries in the past couple years and what I notice is the stark contrast of our freedoms to theirs. They have daily personal freedom, and are shocked when we describe our constant barrage of permits and rules and regs.

      It seem to me to be just an oppressive tool of the government to keep us in a fear based mentality. Scared people are far easier to control!