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Matthews: Treasure your freedom

Let me finish tonight with the word we all celebrate this Fourth of July.  I mean all of us - left, right and center. It's "freedom."That's the word that

Let me finish tonight with the word we all celebrate this Fourth of July.  I mean all of us - left, right and center. 

It's "freedom."

That's the word that moves us, gets to us - because in good cases, we "know" the feeling - of being able to be out there on our own. At its most basic, it's what we felt when we went out at night as teenagers out from the bounds of authority and control.  We were out there as individuals, on our own, to do and feel what free people do and feel.

I know what it means to me this word freedom and I like you treasure it.

So this is what unites us this Fourth - the love of the word for the simple reason that it means something to all of us - to each of us.

But it does, also, and this is the rub mean somewhat "different" things to "different" Americans - people who are different in their separate interests.

To me, freedom means freedom of speech, freedom to see the movies I want, read the books I want, say what I want.  I have that kind of freedom here on Hardball - an hour a night, five nights a week. You can probably figure me out by the mix of things I say here.

To some, freedom means the ability to run a business that dirties the air that hurts the planet. That's freedom that I say should end the nanosecond it takes away from the person within breathing distance in living distance - which as we get more thrown together on this planet is all of us. Freedom to pollute, to hurt the climate of this planet, is not the kind of freedom anyone would be willing to die for.  Don't you think?

What about the freedom to exploit people, to make money by suppressing the hopes of others, screwing their paychecks down to the bone so you get the work out of them but they don't even get a decent living out of doing the work?  The freedom to exploit?  I don't think so.

Is it freedom to go walking into a restaurant or hotel carrying a gun?  Is that the freedom someone would die for?  It's not about the right to bear arms, but to flaunt them. 

Freedom. I'd say it's the thing soldiers fight for - yes, those liberties discussed quite well in the Bill of Rights - they include the right to speak, to read, to think, to pray the way you want to - just because you want to.

When I was at the Berlin wall when it came down that drizzly night, I stood in a crowd of people waiting on the eastern side of the Brandenburg Gate and organized a little rump session of "Hardball."  I decided to ask the crowd of East Germans who had lived their whole lives without it - what "freedom" meant to them. "Was ist Freiheit?"  What is freedom? I kept asking.  Finally, a young man in his twenties looked me solemnly in the eye and said, "Talking to you."

That's my freedom.