Decade by decade, our definition of happiness evolves. Our image of liberty changes. And people are discovering how far they can go in the pursuit of happiness.
For some, happiness is having a job and providing for their families. For others, it means being acknowledged. Heard. Listened to.
This Fourth of July, I was angry. It's hard to celebrate the hard-fought freedom of our independence when our country is so divided. Our beautiful [2022 edit: flawed] Constitution, like the Bible, is held aloft, glorified. Some take it literally; others cherry-pick the passages they want to apply to themselves or others. Still others try to interpret the spirit of the thing, to mixed results.
Here is my interpretation on a few things:
Freedom of religion: I am allowed to practice my religion as long as it is not hurting anyone. My religion does not trump law. I can try to convert others, if an appropriate situation arises, but the existence of other religions should not be considered an affront to my own.
Freedom of speech: I have opinions. So do other people. We are equally entitled to say them. However, when facts are proven, one should avoid perpetuating lies. They are harmful.
Equality: Bit by bit, issues like racism, sexism, xenophobia, homophobia, and class warfare are tackled. They go in stages (order may vary): anger, rationalization, denial, positive profiling, and micro aggressions (and others I am probably forgetting). Just because we have moved to a different stage does not mean we have solved the problem. And dealing with smaller issues does not take away from injustices that happen elsewhere. They are all part of the same problem.
Big government vs. small government: I feel that help should be available when it is needed. Many politicians that complain about handouts are often the recipients of subsidies themselves (or their states are). This is hypocritical. Perhaps we should embrace the help that is there for many, for we may need it next.
If it is not hurting someone, there does not need to be a law against it. If a person is in danger of harm, the government is not there to stand in the way of help or care. Corporations are not there to restrict medical access, make healthcare more difficult or expensive, or give their "corporate opinion". After all, a corporation is a fictional entity comprised of individuals. It can do good by giving to charity from its profits, but it cannot have a religion itself. Any ideals expressed by the company are actually that of individuals and should hold no more weight than that of actual people. In fact, religion falls under the category of topics that are illegal to inquire about at a job interview. Therefore, apart from regular law and human decency, religion issues should never arise at work (except voluntarily, like in the case of time off for observances). If a for-profit company has a worker that is a different religion than “its own”, will it allow that worker to observe different holiday, or would that offend its religious sensibilities?
Whether corporations have religion should not be a question. But, as it has been deemed they do (for now) we must look at the next step, which is the question of "What is oppression?" Oppression is not the inability to oppress others. It is not the existence of those who disagree with you. It is not liberties granted to others which you already have. These things are mistakenly being taken for oppression. When those in power lose some privilege so that marginalized groups can have liberties that others have, that is not oppression. That is one small step toward equality. And people will complain. Powerful people do not want to share power (Gandalf had it right). They will hold onto their privilege like a vise and claim any attempt to deprive them of their advantage is oppression. But it has happened time and again, and history has shown that this is the course of liberty.