Friday, July 3, 2009

Katie on the 4th: What does July 4th mean to you?

Every year at about this time life grinds to a hault for many of us as we stop to celebrate the birth of our country. Businesses close down, beach trips are made, BBQ's are lit, adult beverages are enjoyed, and we take a moment to thank our armed servicemen and women. Without the sacrifices made by our servicemen and women, life in this country just wouldn't be the same, let alone even be possible. If the minutemen had never fired over 200 years ago, the lives of the people in this country would most certainly not have been the same. Had the United States not struck back after the devastating bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941, who knows how different our lives would have been. And had brave men and women not gone to the Middle East after the destruction of the twin towers, who knows how many more of our citizens, and even citizens of other countries, would have been killed had they not had the courage to step to the plate and take out some of the world's most fearsome terrorist leaders.

This is most certainly a time to stop and honor these men and women and think about how lucky we all are to live where we do. For some, they are thankful for material possessions and the wealth they're able to accumulate from the thriving economy we have. While still in a downturn, our economy is still far and above that of several other countries. For others, they are happy for the freedoms that they are granted through their constitution. The freedom to attend a church or a mosque if they so choose. The freedom to print an article arguing against the government without fear of imprisonment. The freedom to exist in a country without absolute rule. For me though, it's quite different, and actually it's quite simple. I'm happy to have the freedom to CrossFit, and therefore maintain my health. I'm sure to many, that seems unusual, something silly to be thankful for, but it goes so much further than what meets the eye as a rather simple statement.

Consider this for a moment. A friend who is a member of the FBI recently returned from a trip to Saudi Arabia. Despite the fact that in our country she is an armed and very respected federal agent, she was required to be accompanied by men, she had to be very cautious of her interactions with the men, and of all things, she was not to work out. In their country, a woman working out was frowned upon because she would have had to share the gym with men, which was frowned upon. As a guest of the country she of course had to abide by their rules, but can you imagine something as ordinary and everyday like working out being forbidden? What would you do if you couldn't CrossFit? What would you do if suddenly part of your daily routine was taken away and deemed forbidden? You may do what she did and do push-ups, air squats, and sit-ups in your room, but really. How would you deal?

Saudi Arabia is not alone in it's treatment of women. Countries like Afghanistan require women to leave their homes with a man, and require them to wear a burka to cover their faces. Could you even begin to imagine doing pull-ups or burpees or ANYTHING while your face is covered? In a country where punishments are dolled out for the smallest offenses, could you imagine the punishment for a woman who wanted to be fit and take care of her body? In a country where women's education has been surpressed for many years, can you imagine the reaction a woman would receive when she wants to workout and begin to show her STRENGTH? Although Afghanistan is changing, I have a very difficult time imagining that that would be received well.

There are so many things that we do on a daily basis that we take for granted. In many ways as a society we are very lucky. Our military protects us and ensures us all the opportunity to persue life, liberty, and happiness, but the Constitution never really explicitly says what happiness is because it's different for every person. For some, it's freedom of speech, others freedom from religious persecution, and for others the freedom to work and thrive in a free economy. However, to some of us, it's even much more simple. We are happy to have the opportunity to lift some heavy weights and get strong. We are happy to be able to push ourselves and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

I'm not sure if everyone has picked up on the fact that I am a woman. I know it's hard to remember that sometimes when I talk about using men's weights and blah blah blah, but I am. Were I not living in the United States, there is a chance that I may not be the same person I am now because I wouldn't be able to do something as simple as CrossFit. Now, I don't mean CrossFit is simple, it kicks my butt everyday, but I just mean the idea, the concept of working out, of being physically fit. Women exhibiting strength and women being strong and beautiful is not something that is universally accepted. Some countries prefer to have women who are uneducated and meek, unable to "cause problems" or fight back against the rules against them.

At a time like this, I am appreciative of all of the larger freedoms that are granted to me by our country's constitution and are preserved by the members of our armed forces. But I am even more thankful of the smaller freedoms that we take for granted everyday. I'm proud to be a strong woman, and I'm extremely thankful that my armed servicemen and women stand between me and the people of this world who would quickly change that. So this fourth of July I say, let freedom, and CrossFit, ring.


Tami said...

Great post Katie.

We truly are lucky to live in this, the best country in the world. Having been raised by two generations of strong, independent women I cannot imagine not even having the freedom to walk outside without having my face covered or without the approval of a man.

A sincere and heartfelt THANK YOU you to all the men and women who put themselves in harm's way to keep us free.

Happy Independence Day everyone!

The Wigan Crossfitter said...

If you guys had stayed with the Brits way back then, your country could have been the new Canada.

Erin said...

I had to chuckle at this. Before, when you just had the title posted I almost commented with "CrossFit and apple pie".

I too am always grateful for the freedom to be a strong physically fit, well educated, successful woman. I too have traveled to the middle east and been in hotel gyms where it was obvious I was not wanted. Even at age 7, a fellow teammates father didn't want me playing in the local soccer all-star game because I was a girl--the only girl in the league. I was discriminated against by male coaches and teammates through high school because I wanted to play soccer and could only play on the boys team. But, I had the freedom and the right to play. And I did.

On Saturday running through the streets of Raleigh I found myself so thankful to be able to run free, with my brother, without fear, with every right to fulfill MY "pursuit of happiness".

God Bless America!