Runner Up Entry by Terry Price

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The Depths of Freedom

 

Freedom is a shallow well.

 

As an infant you’re swaddled in the shallow warmth of your parents’ freedom. As a toddler, freedom itself becomes your freedom. You can move around. You can make noise to elicit a response. It’s liberating.

 

As you continue to grow, so does your freedom. You become a child who steps away from the shelter of your parents’ wings. You begin making decisions and, best of all, it’s a welcomed step. The shallow well you once stood in suddenly becomes a little deeper. You start to realize that you are capable of making a difference in your life. You are free!

 

Until, that is, you grow again. Freedom becomes the ability to think independently of your parents. You can drive. You can take yourself places you never thought you’d be able to go. Your newfound abilities excite you. Your life is finally of your own making and you are powerful. You discover you are a catalyst for change. Freedom takes on new meaning.

 

Throughout college and young adulthood you bloom. Your shallow well of freedom becomes a trench of knowledge. You do and make and speak for yourself. You’ve learned your freedom is the right to independent thinking. You are one of a kind, and you’re allowed to be. You can go to school, get a job, and spend hard-earned money. You can eat out or have a drink at the bar with friends. You can live and love and lie. You can walk down the street or drive in your car, and you are FREE.

 

Finally, you become an adult. Freedom is no longer a shallow well. Your life has led you through a treacherous path and beyond. You’ve learned and you’ve experienced. You finally understand that the depths of freedom are unending. People have sacrificed for your freedom. The independence you once thought was freedom has little meaning without the people who have helped earn it.

 

Freedom becomes an entity all its own. It is something that can be given. It is something that can be earned. It is something that can be taken away. You can see the freedom which cloaks you is not universal. You can appreciate your right to freedom just as easily as you can squander it. You comprehend that your decisions keep you swathed in the warmth of freedom – or they can snatch it away. You suddenly see that freedom was never a shallow well. Freedom was, and always will be a depth beyond compare. There are high and low points, and narrow ledges on which you must balance. There are battles of strength and will. You can lose the freedom you thought you deserved, or fight to share it with others.

 

You know, now, you live in a country where freedom has been earned. You look around you and see all the battles you never had to fight, and the people you were never able to thank for fighting them. You see people of all ages continuing to fight for the freedom you experience every day. Freedom is not the same as you once believed. Freedom is a dynamic force constantly maintained by the people you see on the street, and by those you will never meet.

 

Freedom is a gift in need of nurturing and deserving of profound thanks. Thank you to all who have, who continue to and who one day will fight for our freedom.