Today the USA honors Independence Day, a holiday celebrated with food and fireworks and thoughts of those who died to grant us the freedoms we now enjoy as a nation. I’m always conflicted when it comes to this holiday, however, as it’s far too easy to memorialize war over peace, to value aggression over compassion in our quest to secure an outdated dependence on oil and other precious resources rather than to implement a worldwide model of sustainable living.
From the Cambridge Dictionary: Independent: Capable of thinking or acting for oneself.
I wonder how a nation of ‘rugged individuals’ has devolved into one in which its citizens seem to prefer a trancelike adherence to the status quo rather than realizing that democracy and freedom are both intrinsically linked to the participation of the citizenry, itself, of each and every one of us. Instead, many have bent to the corporate takeover of our country and greed supplants the largesse of spirit Americans have long been admired for.
We possess the resources, as one of the richest nations on earth, to advocate for the oppressed and downtrodden and to celebrate the amazing freedom of every citizen to develop their unique gifts and talents. Most all of us, save the Native Americans, remain descendants of immigrants. Instead of celebrating our growing diversity, however, many currently argue for closing the door on those we consider ‘outsiders.’
I don’t possess the answers, but I often ponder this quote, engraved below our own Statue of Liberty:
Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless, tempest tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!
~ Emma Lazarus