Thoughts on Freedom, the Fourth of July and Anousheh Ansari

Greetings my friends:

Yesterday, as in most cities around the US, Dallas celebrated July 4th with parades and fireworks displays, each one more spectacular than its neighbors. I participated in a few celebrations and once again thanked the Universe for the freedoms we enjoy here in the US – which not everyone everywhere does.

This mood was somewhat tarnished when I opened emails, some of which had the most intolerant statements- pointing fingers at each others’ parties and politics and religions. “Well it’s an election year, to be expected, each side slams the other”, I sighed, then shook my head and said no, darn it; “it’s the 4th of July- it’s about celebrating freedom in a country that purports to be united, compassionate, a democracy and tolerant of differences, some of those differences ones of color, race, creed and political and other ideology. In fact, some of those same differences that caused our families, even some of us, to immigrate and get away from intolerant nations and situations, sometimes fleeing outright persecution”.

I thought about the individuals who inspire us to go beyond pettiness and embrace civility. Albert Einstein, for one, who said, “our task must be to free ourselves by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty;” My friend Ann who talks about civility…. through her entrepreneurship and the Grace of Tea; and Anousheh Ansari, another.

Now a Dallas based entrepreneur, and the “first female private space explorer”, Anousheh, who originally hails from Iran, recently joined us for a McCuistion TV taping. On the program, she stated what I felt this way:

“Earth is our space station traveling through this Universe and the sooner we realize it… we will find a better way to live together peacefully and really enjoy the resources we have on this planet.”

Her story and how she fulfilled her dream is inspiring so I hope you tune in this Sunday, July 8, 2012 and watch on KERA or visit next week as the full episode will be online (click here for more information on the episode).

These examples compelled me to rebut some of those email comments and instead talk about tolerance and freedom of speech and what we are grateful for on July 4th. And I got some comments back. A friend commented with her July 4th experience,

“Yesterday I was watching FOX -5 news while making dinner. They asked several people what the 4th of July meant to them. It was interesting that all said the right to our freedom but they didn’t, and couldn’t, articulate beyond that very well.” She asked as do I, “Is it that we’ve taken freedom so for granted that we can’t say what it means anymore. Do we take for granted the gifts that we have in the country and only look at what we don’t have?”

For awhile I have been thinking of, writing about, mulling over the concepts of intolerance and fear which is often media fed and not just in a political year. My friend reminded me of this and the potential recipe for disaster it may lead to. Her words, not mine,

“Where there is fear there can be no peace, internally individually or externally. It seems to me that disharmony is also being fed by the bias we hear from the many peoples throughout the world. I think that the real question is: ‘how can we, individually, make the world a better place?’ Extremists, radical thinking, bias, intolerance, continue to perpetuate the hidden fear that WE ALL store consciously or unconsciously. Words are powerful and until we begin to speak collectively about the power of peace and how we share similar values for family, community and life we will continue toward a downward trajectory”.

Thank you Anousheh and others for the reminder of what freedom and tolerance and mutual respect mean and restoring my mood and faith in people. And hope you watch the program; you too will be inspired.

All my best: