Sunday, August 05, 2018

Put independence back in the day

(My Eastern New Mexico News column for July 4, 2018)

What does Independence Day mean to you? To me, Independence Day has morphed into the most tragic of holidays. Its original meaning has been completely lost; turned on its head. The way it is most commonly celebrated now is like celebrating Christmas with hatred and theft. It has become a shadow of what it should be. Of what it may have been once upon a time.

Instead of being a celebration of American independence, it has been turned into a worship service for the U.S. government-- a government orders of magnitude more thieving and tyrannical than the government which was sent packing after the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

How can this make sense to anyone?

I realize most people don't actually celebrate Independence Day. They enjoy the 4th of July, instead. They wave flags, have picnics and backyard cook-outs and go on vacation. They attend government-sponsored fireworks displays which are choreographed to the sounds of government hymns and other songs of propaganda, all calculated to distract from the real sights and sounds-- and spirit-- of independence. It is all done "legally" with safety, and independence has no place in it.

What does independence mean?

It means being above dependence. It means being responsible for yourself, not being a burden to others, and having the ability and the means to help others when they stumble. It means being prepared in case of emergency or natural disaster. It means governing yourself, as an individual, and leaving others alone to do the same.

Independence is not the same as freedom; freedom often includes irresponsibility and shortsightedness. Independence is liberty-- the freedom to do everything you have a right to do; everything which doesn't violate anyone else's equal and identical rights. It has nothing to do with legality, but everything to do with doing the right thing.

Independence isn't selfishness.  It doesn't mean supporting the political oppression of those you fear or dislike. It doesn't mean "there oughta be a law". It has nothing to do with violating the life, liberty, or property of others for "the common good" or "national interests". It doesn't mean military aggression exported all across the globe. It certainly doesn't involve depending on government to save you or protect you from anything or anyone.

I invite you to think about independence and how you could live more independently in the year to come, and from now on. Make Independence Day mean something real again. Put some independence back into it.

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I know you are, but what am I?

Yes, you are. Responsible, that is. Whether you like it or not. And so am I.

I'm struck by this fact whenever I see something chiding people to "Be responsible".

Maybe a better way it could be phrased is "accept that you are responsible", or "act like you realize you are responsible".

You are responsible. You can try to run from it, you can try to deny it, you can try to explain it away, but you are responsible for everything you do. Accept it and move forward.

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