What does the 4th of July mean to you? For many of us who live in the United States of America, it is fireworks and parades, apple pie and hot dogs, family picnics and barbecues and a holiday that happens at the perfect time of the year. For me, it is a day to give thanks for being able to live in the greatest country in the world; greatest because of the freedoms and choices that our ancestors fought for and which are guaranteed to each and every one of us to this day.
I understand that it may be easy to lose sight of the principles on which this country was founded when we have never known anything else in our lifetimes. For those of us who were born here, we may take freedom for granted because we have never known anything else. But, there are many who live in this country that were born elsewhere and had to sacrifice so very much to come here and make a brand new life for themselves and their families in order to be guaranteed these freedoms. And, if necessary, they would do it all over again.
I guess that is why it is so very hard for me to understand how some find it so very easy to take away from others without so much as a second thought. There are those who think that they are entitled to whatever they want and take from others without a second thought. They are willing to rob or cheat or steal and even kill others for what they want because they are smarter or stronger and because who cares what their victims did to earn what they have. They certainly can't understand the true value of what it means to be independent when they have no respect for others' lives and property and exist dependent upon what they can take from everyone else.
There are those who believe that it is okay to tell others about who they should elect to political office or what they should believe as their religious choice or how they should treat others who are of a different social, economic or ethnic, etc. group. They believe that power and control over others is the most important thing in life. And even sadder are those who are willing to give away their choices because they are afraid to be independent and make their own choices. They believe that others truly know better what is good for them personally and that they have to be part of a group in order to survive in this world.
Well, this July 4th as we celebrate the hard-won independence of our country, I think that it is a great time to stop and reflect on our own personal independence and what that independence really means. Each of us needs to respect our independence enough to make the choices that are best for us on a personal level and to respect that independence enough to allow it for everyone else to be able to make their own choices, even when we are not in agreement with them. After all, this is truly what independence is all about and this is what we should celebrate on this most special day.