Thoughts on Independence

independence day

Today is a national holiday. Since it’s Monday working Americans got a three-day weekend! There will be bbq’s, games, family, and friends celebrating, and large consumption of alcohol followed by shooting off fireworks. If you live in a city, you may be aware of the tradition of shooting offloaded guns into the air in celebration. (??)

People will pause to thank military people for fighting for our freedom and talk about why America is great on social media, but in the midst of all the celebrating, I can’t help but wonder if we are entering into an era where independence is more limited than ever. Unfortunately, the reality is we are our own worst enemies when it comes to the undoing of freedoms and what is worse is we won’t even see restrictions coming until it’s too late.

Aziz Ansari wrote an article Why Trump Makes Me Scared For My Family recently. It’s is filled with FACTS something people in the news seems to lack these days. It is distinct and thought-provoking.

The first shooting I can recall is when Laurie Dann wandered into a second-grade classroom to get revenge. The second shooting I can immediately recall is the Columbine High School Shootings. If you remember, students were specifically shot after confirming their belief in Jesus amongst other things. While living in southern Illinois, a student’s home church less than two hours from our college campus lost their pastor when he was shot in front of the congregation on a Sunday morning. 

I too, just like Mr. Ansari, have felt nervous to have my parents enter their chosen place of worship. I too have felt the disappointment of political leaders who desire only to gain popularity and lack follow through that actually will protect me.

Racism is still alive and flourishing in the United States. I know this first hand as my fifth grader has experienced more than his fair share of uneducated comments from classmates. Bigotry headlines the news more evenings than not. Sexism, classism, and any other form of social divisiveness you can think up exists, and no one is excluded.

I believe our founding fathers, the ones who risked their lives to establish freedom in this country would cry if they saw what has become of the United States of America. Yes, they had some major flaws of their own, but over two hundred years later we are not that far removed.

We cry out that child labor is terrible and then buy a t-shirt for $3 to fill our already overflowing drawers. We refuse to admit the DIRECT CORRELATION between human trafficking and pornography because it might inhibit our “right to free speech.”  All the while we cry out that our freedom to use the bathroom is being infringed upon or our right to own an arsenal “just because we can.”  The cry is always to take something away. Don’t let people in, take away their guns, limit travel, block the building of their place of worship.

Every action has a response, and we have to stop ignoring the fact that taking away the rights of those we disagree with is a two-way street. Every freedom we take away from someone else opens us up to have rights stripped from us as well. There is no single race, gender or religious identification that is free from bias or safe from attack. Stop letting your views be shaped by the politics in front of you.

We kid ourselves by thinking that forcing everyone to live their lives according to our personal interpretation of morals and laws is promoting independence. That’s what slave owners did, and it nearly tore this country in half. The fourth of July exists as a national holiday because thousands of people over hundreds of years have died to protect independence, beginning with the desire to not be ruled by a monarchy. The definition of a monarchy: undivided rule or absolute sovereignty by a single person. It is the opposite of independence.

I’m thankful that I’ve grown up in and continue to be a citizen of a country that allows me to read my Bible in public, choose the place I worship, allows me to marry whomever I want and doesn’t limit the number of children I claim as my own. I may not agree with the god other people worship, but this truth is what distinguishes true independence.