Webster says: “Independence Day: a civil holiday for the celebration of the anniversary of the beginnings of national independence; July 4 observed as a legal holiday in the U.S. in commemoration of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence in 1776. “Independent”: not dependent; not subject to the control of others; self governing; not looking to others for one’s opinions or for guidance in conduct; and many more…….
Perhaps no word, that becomes a behavioral action, has become more subject to one’s personal belief or wishes. Independence equals freedom. We answer to no one. Do what you want. Say what you like. Whenever you like. Freedom from any one or agency who wishes to set rules for me to obey. Probably as many people as you might ask to define this word, you would get a different answer from each with only a few concepts possibly overlapping. Think back to 1776 and remember why our founding fathers thought it necessary to gain independence. Does it jive with what is happening today? If not, what is the difference?
No group, small or large, can exist and prosper without certain basic shared concepts and behaviors. Respect differences without the need to retaliate. Willingness to work and live together for a greater good even when one doesn’t always agree. Majority can rule, if its actions are not immoral, illegal, or to the benefit of the group. The one or ones who yell/speak the loudest are not necessarily in the right. Can I be happy and successful, if I do not agree with what is happening around me? Do I declare my independence and walk away? Or am I required to act? Is my group behavior something that agrees or goes against my morality or beliefs?
Our country and our religion are suffering greatly from an overload of independence. Many believe that “I’ know what is best for me and mine regardless of what others have said or what history has proven to work. Independence seems to have become a political way of life. If you don’t agree with another, even in one’s family, hostility arises to the point of people not speaking to another. TV, social networks, newspapers, every way of messaging have become somewhat intolerable to those who don’t agree. This is a far cry from God’s request to “love one another as I have loved you.”
Do any of these words have less importance or conflict when one considers independence—love, respect, sacrifice, kindness, charity, cooperation, religious beliefs, working, support, education, family, obligations, choices, volunteering, doing what is right or required in a situation, even if I don’t necessarily want to do it at this time, belief in God and His words and wishes, and many more. Can each of us live in the same place and make that place worth living in, if we don’t cooperate and listen to and respect each other? Do we really believe that independence means I choose whatever I want to do and with whom and when I want to do it without any consideration of another in my choices? Maybe this 4th, we need to really look at the flag we will raise; look around at our parade, cookout, beach or mountain vacation; at our homes and really think and say a prayer of thanksgiving for our freedoms and remember all those since 1776 whose beliefs were strong enough in our country and its people that they were willing to sacrifice their lives, even to their death. Strong people are independent. Noble people live beyond just themselves. Loving people are thoughtful, kind, and respectful of others around them. God’s people love, work, and worship together for the greater good. Independence is a gift that needs constant unwrapping in the presence of others.
by Kathy Reilly