The Penalty Box: What Does “Free” Really Mean

July 3, 2024 at 8:00 a.m.


For most of you, you are reading this on July 3.
It’s the eve of the 248th birthday of the United State of America.
You know what it’s not? It’s not just the “4th of July”…It’s Independence Day.
I don’t do it often, but occasionally I stray away from sports talk to delve into other subjects that are important to me and I think should be to you, too.
Today is that kind of day.
You have been hearing a lot about freedom in the days leading up to Thursday, and the beautiful part of this country is also what makes it complicated and hard—true freedom allows you to be different than me, to like different things than me, to want different things than me and to have different goals and dreams than me.
And I can say that and mean it because I grew up in a generation that not only allowed “different”, it welcomed it. We looked at people who were different than us as opportunities to be curious. It was a chance to learn and grow.
Sure, I had a set of morals that my parents ingrained in me, and I wasn’t inclined to stray outside of those boundaries. But that didn’t, and doesn’t, mean I can’t understand how my life is different than others and try to find common ground.
We have lost that approach in America.
There is no such thing as negotiation. There are only power struggles.
There is no room for compromise.
There is only sympathy and empathy with people who are in the same box of life as we see ourselves.
That applies to politicians, civic leaders and a large majority of the rank-and-file Americans—men and women, young and old, rich and poor.
One thing that has not changed is that freedom comes with a cost. It’s not “free” now and it has never ever been “free”, in America or going back to the beginning of human history.
It’s why freedom has always been held with the highest regard. Its value ranks higher than that of gold and silver.
People have fought and died for it. Sometimes they had to defend it for themselves and sometimes they did it to free others. Either way, it was worth life itself.
Now…today…we see no value in life and we hold no value in people who aren’t 100-percent in lock step with our point of view. It’s why we kill people with such ease.
America’s history shows that when we are united, we are undefeated, but when we are divided we fail.
Imagine us winning World War II without a united America joining countries around the world to storm the beaches of France and to, island-by-island, push back the Japanese?
Here is the question that no one wants to think about this week: If the Russians and Chinese chose to attack America for the purpose of taking her down, would we have what it takes to rise up and repel that attack?
The ideal that chased the British back home in the 1700’s and the French in the early 1800’s, of those who wore blue uniforms from 1861-1865 and who fought in two world wars and in other places at other times fought to make men and women free and to keep it that way.
Do we have the guts, the courage, the will to maintain that ideal?
Maybe the better question is this one: Do we care about each other enough to want to fight for each other?
I seriously wonder if we do.
Freedom requires give-and-take in our everyday lives. It demands that we be willing to sacrifice certain things as individuals to secure the general good for everyone.
Are we still willing to do that for each other?
Are we committed to protecting each other at risk of our own personal safety.
If we are not, then I believe it will be impossible for us to fend off outside forces. Heck, those forces may have already waltzed across our southern border and we would never know until it was too late.
And not enough people in positions to do anything about it seem to care.
So, tomorrow isn’t about cookouts or swimming or anything else you do tomorrow. It’s about freedom and being free. It’s about remembering what it took to get us to 248 years old, about those who sacrificed to make it happen, and about what it will take for us to keep it going.
I am asking you, on this special day, to be grateful for the freedom you have and thank God for it, while you still have it.

For most of you, you are reading this on July 3.
It’s the eve of the 248th birthday of the United State of America.
You know what it’s not? It’s not just the “4th of July”…It’s Independence Day.
I don’t do it often, but occasionally I stray away from sports talk to delve into other subjects that are important to me and I think should be to you, too.
Today is that kind of day.
You have been hearing a lot about freedom in the days leading up to Thursday, and the beautiful part of this country is also what makes it complicated and hard—true freedom allows you to be different than me, to like different things than me, to want different things than me and to have different goals and dreams than me.
And I can say that and mean it because I grew up in a generation that not only allowed “different”, it welcomed it. We looked at people who were different than us as opportunities to be curious. It was a chance to learn and grow.
Sure, I had a set of morals that my parents ingrained in me, and I wasn’t inclined to stray outside of those boundaries. But that didn’t, and doesn’t, mean I can’t understand how my life is different than others and try to find common ground.
We have lost that approach in America.
There is no such thing as negotiation. There are only power struggles.
There is no room for compromise.
There is only sympathy and empathy with people who are in the same box of life as we see ourselves.
That applies to politicians, civic leaders and a large majority of the rank-and-file Americans—men and women, young and old, rich and poor.
One thing that has not changed is that freedom comes with a cost. It’s not “free” now and it has never ever been “free”, in America or going back to the beginning of human history.
It’s why freedom has always been held with the highest regard. Its value ranks higher than that of gold and silver.
People have fought and died for it. Sometimes they had to defend it for themselves and sometimes they did it to free others. Either way, it was worth life itself.
Now…today…we see no value in life and we hold no value in people who aren’t 100-percent in lock step with our point of view. It’s why we kill people with such ease.
America’s history shows that when we are united, we are undefeated, but when we are divided we fail.
Imagine us winning World War II without a united America joining countries around the world to storm the beaches of France and to, island-by-island, push back the Japanese?
Here is the question that no one wants to think about this week: If the Russians and Chinese chose to attack America for the purpose of taking her down, would we have what it takes to rise up and repel that attack?
The ideal that chased the British back home in the 1700’s and the French in the early 1800’s, of those who wore blue uniforms from 1861-1865 and who fought in two world wars and in other places at other times fought to make men and women free and to keep it that way.
Do we have the guts, the courage, the will to maintain that ideal?
Maybe the better question is this one: Do we care about each other enough to want to fight for each other?
I seriously wonder if we do.
Freedom requires give-and-take in our everyday lives. It demands that we be willing to sacrifice certain things as individuals to secure the general good for everyone.
Are we still willing to do that for each other?
Are we committed to protecting each other at risk of our own personal safety.
If we are not, then I believe it will be impossible for us to fend off outside forces. Heck, those forces may have already waltzed across our southern border and we would never know until it was too late.
And not enough people in positions to do anything about it seem to care.
So, tomorrow isn’t about cookouts or swimming or anything else you do tomorrow. It’s about freedom and being free. It’s about remembering what it took to get us to 248 years old, about those who sacrificed to make it happen, and about what it will take for us to keep it going.
I am asking you, on this special day, to be grateful for the freedom you have and thank God for it, while you still have it.

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