Thoughts on Freedom


Steve Freese
President and CEO

Before the pandemic rolled in and changed life as we knew it in March of 2020, I think many of us may have taken our freedom for granted. We could do whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted. Since this month we celebrate the 244th anniversary of declaring our independence and freedom from Great Britain, and the creation of the United States, freedom is a perfect theme right now.
No one ever imagined a pandemic would lead to a sudden and near-complete shutdown of our country. The freedoms we took for granted all but disappeared this past spring, as directed by government orders across the country. Many of us could no longer go to work. Some were lucky enough to be able to work from home.

Going to the local supper club on Friday night for fish was no longer an option, and the only way to attend church was to watch it on the internet. What a shock to our collective systems; staying at home was the new norm. Despite many restrictions being slowly loosened, things we took for granted like the local Fourth of July parade, the church picnic, and the county fair have still mostly been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. If you are like me, you are yearning for the freedom to do the normal things we used to do, and it helps underscore how important that freedom is to our way of life.

The freedoms we have as citizens of the United States, I believe, have helped make us some of the most resilient individuals in the world. Our commitment to our family, friends, and community is helping us recover from this “once in a hundred year event” that virtually none of us has lived through before.
I watch as members of our communities have shown their concern about the mere survival of their local businesses. People have been changing their habits, ordering curbside pickup for everything from farm supplies to fish dinners not just to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, but also to support their local businesses that have had to temporarily close, or reduce hours. On the other hand, local businesses deemed “essential” and able to remain open throughout the shutdown have done all they can to support their neighbors, many of whom have been struggling.
These essential businesses include electric cooperatives, which have taken extra steps to help their communities through these difficult times. These include, in some cases, retiring capital credits earlier than usual to put more money in members’ pockets, making sizable contributions to local food pantries, and donating time and resources to other community relief efforts. Every electric co-op in the state has stepped up in one way or another. It all makes me think of how lucky we are to live in communities that care.

I have shared with you that I am a huge fan of history, and I think back 245 years when the skirmishes between British troops and colonial militiamen in Lexington and Concord in April 1775 kicked off the American Revolutionary War, and what the people of the time were about to do to gain their freedom from the British Crown. They had no idea how long it would take to gain their freedom and independence, but they were resilient and determined despite the long odds. Ultimately, they won the war, and with that victory came the independence that guaranteed us the freedoms we enjoy today.
Take extra precautions so we can continue to stem the tide of the spread of the COVID-19 virus, and fully enjoy those freedoms once again very soon.
While we sure didn’t want to stay home, we did it. We can collectively make a difference still, by practicing safety measures and continuing to look out for each other, until the common threat we face is gone.