“I think it’s neat you do what you want. Not enough chicks do that, if you ask me–just tell society and their expectations to go fuck themselves. If more women did that, we’d be better off.”― Cheryl Strayed, Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail
[one_half padding=”4px 10px 0 4px”]Independence Day. As a country, we are very loud, very proud, and nothing short of ostentatious in proclaiming the anniversary of our nation’s birth. I’m not sure any other country in the world is quite as over-the-top in their celebrations as are we. I’m okay with the annual pomposity to a large degree. Yes, we have a multitude of problems and we’re damn sure a long way from perfect, but that the wheels have yet to come flying off this experimental bus is, in the perspective of political history, quite amazing. So yes, let’s celebrate what we have that separates us from other countries on the planet.
Equally important, though, is that we celebrate our own independence, who we are as individuals and what separates me from you and you from the rest of the pack. We are taught that, at the most basic genetic level, no two people are alike. Yet, we still struggle to differentiate ourselves, men from other men, women from other women, photographers from other photographers, clowns from Republican Presidential candidates (I’m sorry, that last statement really is insulting to clowns and I hope they’ll forgive me). Our world is so overcrowded that it is difficult to find our own voice in an environment where too often we can’t even hear ourselves think.
We also have to face the danger that in our effort to separate ourselves from the pack we lose sight of the fact we are all still human. For all our talk about individuality, there are still some aspects of our existence where we must join together and act as a unit, putting all our differences aside. We do this to protect our common good, provide for the general welfare, and to secure the liberty we hold so dear. When we become so separate as to not participate in the necessary aspects of humanity, we sacrifice not only our independence but our common brotherhood. [/one_half]
[one_half_last padding=”4px 4px 0 10px”]Anytime we declare independence on any level, we have to realize that we are bucking a system that would prefer we all be homogenous, follow the rules, and do what we’re told. Just as the British fought back against the colonists, we often find ourselves at war to establish our own rightful place in the world. Sometimes that battle is against tradition, values and belief systems that have been handed down from generation to generation. Others fight against strong biases that say, “you can’t ….” Still others end up fighting against their own family when they choose to do or be something that no one in the family has done or been ever before. Fathers scold sons. Mothers chastise daughters. Honor is questioned.
I’ve known more than a few people who had to strike out on their own at an early age, leaving behind what barely passed as a family in an effort to somehow survive the conditions into which they had been unceremoniously dumped. Crack babies can grow up to graduate college with honors. Abandoned children who were almost twelve years old before they found out food was supposed to be hot went on to become strong, solid, caring individuals. A young man whose father was murdered in a drug deal goes on to be a successful entrepreneur. A little girl who was told she’d never amount to anything becomes CEO of a Fortune 500 company.
Independence. Mine. Yours. Some wear it in their hearts. Others wear it on their skin. No matter how your independence evolved or how it presents itself now, that do-or-die individuality within you is worth celebrating. Go ahead, light a sparkler or two, set off a brightly colored rocket, or put a match to a string of firecrackers. Celebrate our Independence. Celebrate your Independence. As different as we all are, when it comes right down to it we’re a great country.[/one_half_last]