WHAT DOES INDEPENDENCE MEAN TO YOU?
Soon it will again be Independence Day. We’ll grill, we’ll gather and shoot off fireworks, and celebrate. All that’s great, but do we and our kids even know anymore what we’re truly celebrating? That thought came to mind and stuck. And it set me to thinking…
Noted philosopher, Socrates, considered independence the ability “to find yourself, think for yourself.” Elbert Hubbard said, “Freedom cannot be bestowed—it must be achieved.” Both make valid points that are worth some thought this Independence Day.
In America, thanks to the efforts of our forefathers who established this nation, everyone is born free. Everyone has rights that protect his or her freedom. But in practical life, whether or not one remains free is up to the individual.
Freedom and independence are linked. One can’t be truly free while dependent on another. Whether you rely on an individual or an entity to, say, house and clothe and feed you or to pay your dental bills, once you are reliant you are no longer self-sustaining or independent and you are no longer free.
With dependence comes costs. You rely on and are subject to the terms and conditions of being reliant. There are rules you are required to follow to be given what you need. You can do this, you can’t do that, you must fit within these perimeters. Embracing those “requirement” rules renders an absence of freedom. And that absence, if embraced, can take us to a place where it’s like stepping on a treadmill and, once on it, one can never step off. Perhaps that truth is the root of the saying, There’s no such thing as a free lunch.
An example. You collect a check from the government each month. You can’t work. If you work, you lose the check and the medical benefits that come with it. You’re dependent, subject to the rules for getting the check, but once you step on that treadmill, you’re stuck on it with no way off. If you work, you lose what you have. If you don’t, you’re stuck where you are for the duration. It’s a lose/lose situation. That isn’t independence or freedom. And it limits you and what you’re able to do and to achieve.
Freedom renders us limited only by our imaginations and our willingness to make efforts and take risks. Personal freedom and independence isn’t a new concept, but it is rare. Most of the world lives under heavy restrictions.
DID YOU KNOW
Did you know that only fourteen percent of the people in the world have access to a free press? That only thirty percent have religious freedom? According to Religion News, 5.3 billion people live under harsh religious restrictions.
And you’d have to live under a rock not to be belted by all the news of restrictions on women. In many nations, they can’t drive, can’t go out on the street unescorted, can’t work, can’t be educated, can’t choose their clothes, their path in life, or even their own spouse. And if they step out of their designated place, they’re beaten and/or arrested and executed—even if/when expecting a baby.
America and its republic is a harder road, yes. Its people have to value freedom, liberty, independence. They have to respect it and desire it, and fight for it. Benjamin Franklin once responded to a woman named Mrs. Powel, asking what the founders had created—a republic or a monarchy. “A republic,” Franklin said, “if you can keep it.”
The founders knew that independence and freedom didn’t just depend on creating that republic but also on maintaining it. Constantly guarding and protecting it. That’s the responsibility of each and every individual in each and every generation.
USE IT OR LOSE IT
If you enjoy choosing your life, your school, your work. If you enjoy choosing your faith or the absence of it, defining yourself and what is important to you, deciding the kind of life you want to live and the kind of person you want to be, then you might want to take to heart the words of Steve Jobs. He said, “Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice.”
That’s the heart of individual liberty, personal freedom. To, as Socrates said, think for yourself and as Hubbard said, achieve freedom. It, like independence, isn’t a one shot and you’re done deal. It must be maintained.
This is why throughout history when one seeks to control the masses, the first thing that must be squelched to successfully transform and bring everyone under one’s control is choice. Get rid of God, force reliance on government, and then begin nudging the public to fall in line with one’s desires by making not falling into line painful. High costs, hunger, restrictions; demeaning, ridiculing, demonizing—any and all that can be done to control.
And there is always a high-intensity move to control thought. This is how you should feel about this and that, and if you don’t, you’re abnormal. You’re … choose your own awful adjective.
All of that isn’t about being fair or just or right, it’s about controlling others.
The natural inclination for Americans especially, is to consider that type of manipulation unthinkable. It couldn’t happen here. But the truth is America only works if its people engage and stay engaged in its own affairs.
Many others have considered losing control of their lives unthinkable. But when we look at what happened to them, we see the same mistake on the part of the people repeatedly. They became apathetic, wrapped up in their personal lives and tuned out on their national interests. Then came the nudging, which was deemed to be misunderstandings. Surely Castro, for example, wouldn’t take away people’s private homes and businesses. But he did. And once he did, it was too late. The people had already lost too much and had nothing left with which to fight for themselves. That’s the cost of apathy and the cost of denial.
This Independence Day, we need to remember who we are and why we are.
This country was founded by those who wanted to be free to choose, free to pursue their own visions for their lives, free to worship as they desired without fear of retribution or execution.
Pull out a copy of the Constitution and read it. A copy of the Bill of Rights. Get reacquainted and connected. Your independence is not something to take for granted. If you do so, know that you do so at your own peril.
Look around at how women fare in most of the world today. Is that what you want for yourself? For your daughters and granddaughters?
Americans are so accustomed to exercising their own will that they’ve lost sight of the concept of not having that right or privilege. They’ve fallen to PC police in a way that would stun those who came before us. Do what I want done, the way I want it done—think what I tell you to think or forget tolerance, you’ll be shouted down until you fear opening your mouth about anything.
Is that what Americans want? I doubt it. I seriously doubt it. But if they don’t want it, then they can’t do the same thing those before us did with apathy and denial and expect a different result.
Remember what it costs, and choose what it means to you. If you fail to do so, you risk waking up to find your independence and liberty and freedom is no longer anything more than a faded memory.
America was not established for that. Founders didn’t pledge their lives, treasure and sacred honor for that idea. All who have sacrificed and shed blood to retain freedom didn’t go through what they did for freedom to become a faded memory.
They did their part to establish and maintain freedom for this nation’s people. Not select people in it. Not its government. Its people.
The question on minds this Independence Day is, Will we?
© 2014, Vicki Hinze. Hinze is the award-winning, USA Today bestselling author of nearly thirty novels in a variety of genres including, suspense, mystery, thriller, and romantic or faith-affirming thrillers. Her latest release is Down and Dead in Dixie. She holds a MFA in Creative Writing and a Ph.D. in Philosophy, Theocentric Business and Ethics. Hinze’s online community: Facebook. Books. Twitter. Contact. www.vickihinze.com.