The 4th of July conjures up thoughts of celebration, barbecues, fireworks, freedom, and independence. These modern-day festivities have persisted since 1776 when our founding father, John Adams wrote a letter to his wife in which he detailed his belief that July 4th…

will be celebrated, by succeeding generations, as the Great Anniversary Festival… It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with games, sports, bells, bonfires and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other from this time forward forever more.

It is amazing to think how these traditions began long ago so generations later we can enjoy freedoms our forefathers fought for. Their profound wisdom laid a foundation for which our current troops continue to protect us. And our foundation continues to learn and evolve. Freedom with responsibility is consistent with the tenets of Humanistic Psychology.

The Meaning of Freedom with Responsibility

In her article Responsible Freedom, Betty Luceigh, Ph.D., wrote about historians relating the ever-changing past of our country.

Economists can describe changes in our financial systems, lawyers our laws, politicians our rebalancing of power, sociologists our culture, and more. It is true that we have adjusted to and survived many changes.

July 4th engenders the perfect opportunity to reflect on the deeper meaning of freedom. Dr. Luceigh posited that some have taken for granted that to be in a free country means we can say and do whatever, whenever, wherever, and to whomever we want. Perhaps we need to be informed or reminded that freedom is coupled with personal responsibilities. Freedom must never be isolated from those responsibilities and become a misguided excuse for despicable behavior in speech or action.

How do we encourage freedom with responsibility?

  1. Children struggle to grow up to be independent, self-reliant adults. Their process will not be perfect. Thereby, we must allow them to make mistakes and experience the consequence of their actions. If we do this in an understanding, respectful, loving manner, they are likely to learn. If, however, we get angry, yell, punish them like they committed a crime, they are likely to rebel. Sadly, they will not have learned anything positive.
  2. It behooves adults to be positive role models for how to respond to dissent calmly and respectfully.
  3. It is vital to exemplify tolerance of individual differences and ideas without the need for power and control.
  4. It is important for children to have opportunities to be responsible and solve their own problems, even if they do not do it as well as adults. This is how they learn.

The Significance of Freedom

People tend to resent being controlled, micromanaged, told what to do, or what to think. Instead, they generally prefer to have options, the ability to weigh those options, and the freedom to make choices for themselves. They like to trust that if they behave responsibly, they will be treated fairly. That is the purpose of the Bill of Rights—to ensure that every responsible citizen is protected under the law.

Freedom with responsibility holds true whether for the family, for the work setting, or for our country—of the people, by the people, for the people.

Fourth of July Snoopy