As Independence Day approaches, some Americans are dusting off their barbecues, prepping their favorite recipes and brushing up on the Constitution. If that describes you, you get a gold star for patriotism. If you’re like the rest of us, though, you probably thought I was going to say “grilling skills.” We all know that the Fourth of July is a reminder to celebrate our independence; our freedom. But what about the freedoms of others?
We are privileged with many freedoms: individual, national and political. We have been given the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The rights to speech, to assembly and to petition give us the ability to change our situation. And it can be easy to take these freedoms for granted when they are a part of our daily lives.
However, there are millions of people around the world who are not free, and lack of access to basic necessities is a roadblock to freedom. Rise Against Hunger uses food to pave the way to freedom. Providing nutritious meals to communities allows them to shift their focus from a chronic cycle of survival, providing recipients the freedom to explore other opportunities, including education, job training, and medical assistance that will enable them to better their lives and their communities.
The United States was united by a concept called Republicanism — not to be confused with the similar modern political term. Above all, Republicanism was a way of life; an ideal that prioritized liberty, that emphasized civic duty and a fear of corruption. In modern times, our voices are the power that fuel civic duty, end corruption and created a strong and mighty country. With an increasingly interconnected and global community, our civic duty has expanded to help people and cultures all over the world.
The world’s issues, including hunger, can seem overwhelming, and it is easy to feel removed from things that do not directly affect us. Many of us feel the weight and confusion of politics, and this feeling prevents us from acting. But the truth is, as heavy as the world’s problems can be, one small act from you — just one civic duty — can make a difference. For example, you can take action by asking Congress to increase funding for the nutrition and health of mothers, newborns and young children. If you can do more, do it. There is much to be done.
Celebrating our freedom is wonderful. But isn’t so much of what makes it wonderful is because we get to share it with others? I propose that to stay true to this holiday, we should remind ourselves of how fortunate we are and embrace one of the best parts about our freedom: the right to exercise it in service of others. Just as our freedoms were fought for, let us rise up to fight for the freedoms of others.
To learn more about Rise Against Hunger’s advocacy efforts and to become a Hunger Champion yourself, please visit our Champion the Cause page.