Two centuries ago something unprecedented happened -not only did a nation successfully rebel and declare its own independence from a global superpower but it also stayed independent from all other empires and didn’t become a kingdom itself. Not only this but it gave true freedom to its citizens. Further down the line, it had a civil war, not just for its own survival but to ensure that everyone in it was truly free.

Many of you already guessed this is the United States of America. After all, most people have at least heard of the USA, and many of the same have heard the phrase that it’s the ‘land of the free’; it’s even in the national anthem. But how many people truly believe it’s the land of the free? With everything from the need for the Civil Rights movement, to the civil unrest around the world including wars such as in Iran and Iraq, even to the Coronavirus. There are many things many people have seen, heard, or experienced that have led many to believe that the land of the free is just a pipe dream without any real backings behind it.

After all, no one is free from the consequences of their actions, no one is free from being scared, no one is able to do everything they wish, and yet they are all free nonetheless. This is because of the nature of freedom. Freedom itself isn’t being able to do everything possible, it’s not wielding endless amounts of power, it is simply being able to live your life in the way you see fit. 

All of us have agency but are we truly able to use it if we get thrown in prison for having our own religion, speaking what we believe so long as it hurts no one, or have our privacy and dignity robbed without any actions to warrant them or any consequences to them that rob us of them?

This is the case in some places in the world, some would even say most, yet there is one country that defends all of those rights and more in its very core. This would be the United States of America. In the Bill of Rights, everything I’ve listed is protected. The freedom to speak your mind and believe in what you will is protected in the first of them. The right to privacy is preserved in the fourth and the protection to our own lives and livelihood is protected in multiple.

Does this mean that the United States is perfect? No, nothing humans will make will ever be perfect seeing as humanity itself is imperfect. Even the Constitution and Bill of Rights aren’t perfect. What they are though is the second best thing, protecting our ability to improve and get closer to perfection. But it can only protect our ability to, it can’t make us perfect or even better for that matter. That is something that we have to strive for ourselves. 

Will we ever get there? Probably not while we’re alive. But as Vince Lombardi put it, “that perfection is unattainable is no excuse not to strive for it.” We have waypoints to guide our path and help us find it for ourselves but that is what we must do, find it for ourselves and both progress ourselves and lead others to do the same. This is what it means to be free: to have the ability to progress both individually and as a society. This is why the United States truly is the land of the free, not because it’s a global superpower nor that its people are well guarded, it’s because it offers them the chance to progress.