Independence. Webster’s Dictionary: quality or state of being independent. Independent: not subject to control by others: self-governing : not affiliated with a larger controlling unit.
July 4, 2011 – Today in America we celebrate the birth of our country, our independence from Great Britain, from outside rule, from tyranny and oppression. We now watch as other countries erupt in civil unrest and fight for their independence from tyrannical despots and cruel leaders. With voices raised, fists held high, bodies taking the violence head-on with nothing to protect them, they cry out in anger for justice. They fill the streets with their cries for freedom, their insistence to be heard, their pleas for resignations and government over-throws. Their voices are met with Billy clubs, rifle butts, tear gas and gun shots.
I’ve never seen myself as patriotic. I’m not a flag waver. In fact I’ve often felt great shame at many of our American behaviors. We have badly tainted our image for fifty years with greed instead of capitalism, with injustice to minorities, with warfare to monopolize oil and with the usage of 75% of the world’s natural resources. We appear to force our will and ideologies on the rest of the world. We are often not true partners in our global community.
But with all my doubts and cynicism, I still believe in the goals of our Founding Fathers. Justice for all. A nation under God. Liberty. Freedom. Independence.
It is time to re-read and carefully examine the words we so easily profess. Many Americans have lost track of their true meaning. We want everyone to see the world through our own filtered vision. We want freedom only for those who share our own believes and values, our own religion, gender, sexuality, race, education, and status.
I stopped listening to the recent political debates, the possible shut-down of our government, the unemployment statistics, the debate over taxes, immigration, religion and gay marriage. I watch the televised slaughter in Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen, Syria, Bahrain, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Greece, Lebanon and other countries. And I see eyes of passion and longing for true freedom. I look at our politicians, our crowds of polarized citizens, and I don’t see a fight for freedom. I see a fight for loss of individual rights; I see a quest for individual gain, insistence on our own views, our own betterment, and our own self-serving beliefs.
I hope that people will re-read our Declaration of Independence and our Pledge of Allegiance and listen carefully to the words chosen so many years ago. I hope we will take them to heart, step back and begin to talk instead of debate, listen instead of shout, have tolerance for our differences, and help each other through the current difficult times we face as a country.
With joint effort we can solve the issues that currently divide us– our economic crisis which can be improved, an educational system that no longer works, our dependence on foreign oil that keeps us tied to greed and to countries we often despise and disrespect. We can begin to love neighbors of different faiths, skin color, gender and sexual orientation. We can have “freedom for all” if we have tolerance for all and a tacit agreement to differ with respect.