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What is 'free' in 'freedom'?

If you ask me how America's Independence Day makes me feel, well, it doesn't mean much to me other than the joy of having a long weekend. That’s not to disregard the significance of independence by any means; it's simply because as a Vietnamese, the day when our country gained freedom from America means much more to me than the day America gained freedom from the monarch of Britain so it could go on to 'help' other countries experience the same joy as well, apparently.

So I don't have a personal reason to celebrate the day. However, unlike other years, I spent this year's Fourth of July to reflect on what 'free' means in 'freedom' to my fellow Americans.

Independence Day in America is symbolic, I'll admit it. But I think what many Americans don't realize is that it's not the day itself that is symbolic it is the idea of 'freedom' that America as a whole presented to the world that is symbolic.

But can freedom be 'free'?

I've learned to understand how languages profoundly shape the way we think, the way we see the world, and the way we live our lives. In Vietnamese, the word 'freedom' is 'tự do' and so is 'free'. However, 'tự do' in our language has only one meaning, that is '(the state of) being able to act or change without constraint'; while in English, 'free' also means 'without cost or payment.'

'Without cost or payment' in Vietnamese is 'miễn phí,' which is, by no means, part of 'tự do.' They can't be any more different even from the look and the structure of the words, and simply can’t be mixed together.

We as Vietnamese never grow up believing that freedom is given or comes at no cost. In fact, our history has also proven time after time that it wasn't the case. But I wonder if these two words with two very different meanings have ever been blended in as one in how English-speaking folks particularly American people perceive the idea of 'freedom' that it's granted or 'free' to have?

Freedom is, excuse me, f*cking expensive.

It's already expensive to buy, but also expensive to maintain.

You don't need to hear this from me but it only costs a countless number of Black deaths to start 'moving the needle' on Black freedom in America. In fact, as long as Americans still keep 'bidding' on 'freedom' instead of closing the deal (arguing that All Lives Matter instead of uniting to fight systemic racism), the price of 'freedom' will only keep going up (more injustice continues for Black lives). Apparently, it's still been open for bidding in 2020 so I guess what was sold in 1776 must have been something else?

With my humbled objective view of a foreign-born immigrant in America, I'm not raising the question 'What's Free in Freedom' to convince you to stop celebrating the day when America was freed from the monarch of Britain; but rather, to understand what you are celebrating while remembering that 'freedom' is still not officially sold until the auction ends.

'Freedom' is like a luxury dress so pretty, so expensive, but so worth it; because when you wear it, you will become ‘fearless.’


P.S.: Ok, I can't believe I'm ending my post with this, but...

Kayne West will not make America ‘Stronger’ but rather potentially ‘Heartless’. We ain’t need no ‘New Slaves’. Under his new ‘Power,’ we will only keep playing the game ’Who Will Survive in America?’ and looking for ‘Mercy’. The best scenario would be that he’d be the ‘Runaway’ troll; but if not, and if you want to have a ‘Good Life,’ please ‘Say you WON’T’. A vote for Kayne is a vote for ‘Devil in a New Dress.’

The Devil's last name starts with "T," obviously.


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