Today I am appreciative of the fact that I am a citizen, and not a subject. I am grateful to be represented in Washington (although presently embarrassed by those reps as well), and vote regularly. Even in the current climate of a broken Congress, I appreciate that I can rant about it and not get thrown in jail, or worse.
I wish that our traditions celebrating July 4th included a reading of the Declaration of Independence. NPR broadcasts one annually. I was ashamed a few years ago when one of my literacy students from Korea asked me to recite it for her, and I couldn’t. Sure, I knew some lines, but the whole thing in order? How about the Constitution, or the Bill of Rights? Shouldn’t we know these documents well, without pause or omission? If you do, I applaud you, and plan to fill in the gaps for myself.
Independence is a critical element in our ability to thrive, on many levels. It’s easy to see the catastrophic effects of oppression and imperialism throughout history, as well as any current news broadcasts. Humans need freedom. We crave it, and wither without it. Autocratic leaders and despotic rulers can squash it, but so can poverty, bigotry and discrimination.
In our personal lives, we cannot grow in oppressive relationships. One of the things I love and appreciate about my husband is that he never tells me what to do, or what to think. I’m sure he sees plenty of opportunities every day. Although he doesn’t need any direction from me, I find it challenging to return the favor. Sometimes I try to micromanage his life, or boss him around, gently and with a smile, but controlling nonetheless. Because I know how respected and trusted I feel to live without any directions from him, I want to let go and leave him in freedom. The days I succeed at this are good ones for both of us.
The things we create flourish in an atmosphere of freedom. Diminish or remove it and whatever is trying so desperately to grow and thrive will suffer. A lot. Our own negative thoughts can cage us just as soundly as any external forces. Perhaps we can declare independence from that oppression, and celebrate the freedom that comes from such a revolution.