My Thoughts on Our Four Freedoms

As I watch the world news each evening, I am reminded that I have so much for which to be thankful! I have a roof over my head, food to eat, a warm bed at night, and family and friends around me. Lots of love! I do not wake up to missile attacks or the sound of gunfire. I am not afraid to leave my home or to travel around our country. And I assume that I will see my partner again if we are apart, and I look forward to his embrace.

In 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, in his State of the Union address, outlined a goal of “Four Freedoms”: freedom of speech and expression; the freedom of people to worship God in their own way; freedom from want; and freedom from fear. I am thankful for each of these freedoms, but I also realize that not every American can say the same.

Freedom of Speech and Expression

Because you are reading this blog, you are participating in the freedom of speech and expression, in this case mine. Did I have to worry about my words being censured? No. When I write about financial concepts, I must make sure that I stay within guidelines established by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards because it is my choice to retain the CFP® professional designation. However, I restrict my blogs to financial literacy and education topics because I no longer am registered to give personal financial advice. That is my choice.

We are free to sing, say, write, or post what we want. Of course, there are watchdogs and legal restrictions to make sure that what we say does not cross boundaries such as indecency or libel, or in my case, unethical practices. With freedom comes responsibility and I am thankful that there are parameters to protect me, but especially to protect those who are vulnerable and cannot protect themselves.

However, it has become more difficult to decipher what is true and what is not from the abundance of information that is available. How do you know? In the financial world, my advice has always been to know your source and then double and triple check the facts. I think that makes sense for just about any topic.

Freedom to Worship God in Their Own Way

I grew up in what most people would call a religious community. My family went to church regularly. Most of my friends went to church, too, but not necessarily the same denomination. There was no synagogue or mosque in the small towns in which I grew up, but I was curious. I am thankful that when I started to question my beliefs, I could do so without any fear or threat of physical or emotional retaliation. My search continues to enlighten me.

That is not the case for everyone in the United States, however. Displays of anger and attacks on churches, synagogues, and mosques, are an example. Our country was settled by people seeking a better life – more opportunities for themselves and their families. Freedom to worship in the way they wished was a key factor. It still is!

Freedom from Want

When I look around me and see the size of homes in our communities, the food in our supermarkets, the cars that we drive, or the choices of clothes to wear, I am not surprised that many in the world want what we enjoy every day. Post-COVID, jobs are available in the U.S. in most fields for those who desire. Having gone that route in the past, I am also encouraged by those who decide to start their own business.

My appreciation of what we have and take for granted hit home one day when I awoke to the sound of police radios outside my central Phoenix bedroom window. When I cautiously peeked outside, I saw young people running. It was soon quiet. Later that day, as I drove out of my complex to run errands, I saw a group of young people seated on the ground surrounded by police. They were illegals smuggled into the U.S. by coyotes and then deserted when their van crashed in a police chase. The danger those young people faced left me with a heavy heart. Yes, they entered our country illegally. However, I understand the motive for a better, and in many cases, safer life.

Immigrants aside, I bet you do not have to travel far to see people living in poverty in our country. Every day I see homeless begging on street corners. Last Christmas, as my grandkids and I shopped for Christmas presents for children from the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree, we talked about how much the gifts would mean to families who otherwise could not afford to give their children anything. It was a fun and, I hope, a meaningful experience.

Freedom from Fear

We are so fortunate to live in a country where, for the most part, we can live free of fear of being accosted or murdered. There are some disturbing trends, however. No child should fear for their life when they go to school or attend a party or family gathering. None of us should.

A high school age boy in a community close to mine was recently beaten to death near where he attended a party. He was attacked by a group of boys about his age who had been picking victims randomly and accosting them for the “fun” of it. This was the “gang’s” first murder. The members of this loosely defined gang are not from the slums. They live in affluent, gated developments.

Earlier this year, a small community in my home state in the Midwest experienced a school shooting in which two people were killed and six injured. It was not the first school shooting of 2024 and, sadly, it was not the last. The United States has experienced far too many threats in schools.

I feel fortunate that I do not live in fear of my life or of an attack although I take precautions to protect myself, my property, and my home.

Freedom Rings

Despite the problems and issues that face our country, I am thankful to live in the United States of America and know that I am blessed with opportunities and choices not available to many in this world. However, we can, and need to, improve.

This month, as we celebrate our country, I challenge each of you to do what you can to ensure the Four Freedoms!

“Make up your mind that happiness depends on being free, and freedom depends on being courageous.”  —Pericles

Questions to Ponder and Comment on:

For what are you most thankful? Can you make a list of the top five? Do you have any fears? What can you do to confront and reduce those fears?

Leave a Reply