The Love Affair with Freedom

Americans like their freedom. We are used to our freedom, it is inherent in our culture. Children here grow up wanting to be free, and expecting it. As children they shun bedtimes and assert their food-related demands. As teens, they go crazy and usurp freedom that their parents won’t give to them. Then, as adults, they generally leave the nest early to go to college or get their own place as soon as possible. They lead their owns lives, marry whom they want, and make their own decisions. Sure, parents often continue to play a role, but in other cases, the kids move to a different state or become estranged.

Asian culture is a little bit different. I was raised in a mix of the two. ¬†Asian parents have more control over their kids, it’s a common stereotype and mostly true. There’s a little more emphasis on the family than the individual. Just go to an Asian restaurant, and what do you see? Families kind of share their food, or at least that’s what we do. The parents order sushi or whatever, and everyone shares. Sometimes if it’s a Korean BBQ type restaurant, they won’t even give teenagers a menu, because really, it’s not their decision. But in American restaurants, it’s a very different story. Everyone needs to have their own food, and only grudgingly will you allow your Mom to eat your fries, and reluctantly will you accept a taste of someone else’s chicken. They even make special menus to cater to the kids, who are too picky to eat normal food.

As a kid, I didn’t raise temper tantrums over cookies. I was always a little afraid of my mother. But I did eat my first hamburger when I was six, and secretly they are probably my favorite food. I never learned how to use chopsticks the “proper way,” but I can get by without dropping things, and the food will make it to my mouth. I attended and held a few sleepovers, but they were regretted by my parents :D. Shortly after my sixteenth birthday, I was allowed to go to the DMV to get my license, but I didn’t drive alone for a couple more months. And when I did, I had to text my parents every time I arrived from/left a place, and I virtually only went to school, dance lessons, and Starbucks.

Freedom is still a big issue in my life, especially as a Christian. My parents still want me to do certain things with my life that I may not like at this point. I want to live the American ideal and be a free person, able to make my own decisions, and go places that I want with people that I like. But I know that I am essentially not free, that I am property of God. I know that life is not about making myself happy. I know that I have a higher calling, to make disciples and serve my fellow man. I know that freedom often breeds sin.

But as an American, I believe in freedom in a slightly different sense. People can’t be told what to do by government. People must make decisions for themselves, and you can only hope that they will choose to listen to God. As Roger Williams put it, “Forced worship stinks in God’s nostrils.”