Are you truly free?

Medicine Hat News - - LIFESTYLES - Dr. Linda Han­cock

The Ox­ford Liv­ing Dic­tio­nary de­fines free­dom as: “The state of not be­ing im­pris­oned or en­slaved.”

As we near Re­mem­brance Day we of­ten think about mil­i­tary mem­bers who risked their own lives with threats of be­ing im­pris­oned, en­slaved or worse so that we could ex­pe­ri­ence free­dom from for­eign dom­i­na­tion or despotic govern­ments. Most re­turn from their tour of duty with haunt­ing mem­o­ries of what they saw and did. Many have phys­i­cal prob­lems that are ser­vice-re­lated. All of them re­al­ize that they have pre­cious missed time with fam­ily and friends as well as the “nor­malcy” of life at home.

It is sad to re­al­ize that so many sac­ri­ficed so much for us with­out our full un­der­stand­ing of what that means. Sad­der still to wit­ness the ways in which we of­ten im­prison our­selves with our own neg­a­tive choices.

The cou­ple who con­tin­u­ally ar­gues over in­signif­i­cant daily chores is im­pris­oned in on­go­ing con­flict that ru­ins their health, de­stroys their re­la­tion­ship and alien­ates oth­ers who don’t want to watch.

The per­son who dis­re­spects his/her em­ployer, does less than what is ex­pected and spends more than what is earned, be­comes trapped in a fi­nan­cial prison that lim­its fu­ture choices and brings on stress from debt col­lec­tors.

Those who use sub­stances or ac­tiv­i­ties to the point of ad­dic­tion, be­come en­slaved in a cul­ture that kills ac­count­abil­ity, fos­ters de­ceit, melts self-re­spect, and de­stroys phys­i­cal and men­tal well­be­ing.

In­di­vid­u­als who in­vest most of their time watch­ing tele­vi­sion, re­search­ing the in­ter­net or check­ing their mes­sages lose track of the beauty that si­lence can of­fer, the feel­ing of rest and the op­por­tu­nity to live in the present with real re­la­tion­ships and con­ver­sa­tions.

And those who fo­cus on the past, re­gret­ting things that can­not be changed or wor­ry­ing about the fu­ture even though it hasn’t ar­rived yet can be im­pris­oned over time by de­pres­sion and anx­i­ety that steals their peace of mind.

Imag­ine be­ing of­fered a beau­ti­fully wrapped present. Will you open it? Will you value and use the gift that is in­side? Or will you dis­count it by con­tin­u­ing on with your own harm­ful choices.

The mil­i­tary gift to us is free­dom. Do you hon­our, re­spect and in­cor­po­rate it into your life with thanks­giv­ing? Do you make per­sonal choices that will pre­serve the peace?

It is time to open the gift! And take ac­tion!

Have a thought­ful Re­mem­brance Day!

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