Today is July 4th, the day we celebrate Independence Day here in the United States.
“Independence” is the idea that we can do something by ourselves, without having to depend on anyone else.
Many people equate the term “independence” with “freedom”, but to me, they are separate, yet interconnected concepts.
I see independence as the means, or mechanism by which one can achieve freedom.
Independence means that we are all individuals who can make our own choices independently, not under any outside influence or control of others.
And that independence then allows us the freedom to live our lives in the way that we desire, based on our own, individually formed beliefs.
And so, because freedom describes action, that means that freedom is actually a power.
When we are independent from oppressive restrictions imposed on us by another individual or entity, then that gives us the power to act, speak, think, or be any way we choose or desire.
And, as we know – power comes with great responsibility.
And so, to me freedom involves the collective, the idea that if we are an individual who has freedom that it is our obligation to help others become free as well.
This quote by the great Toni Morrison captures this idea perfectly, that the entire purpose of freedom is to use it to free someone else.
Because freedom is a power, that power should not be held in the hands of a few – which means it can be abused, used to control or exploit others, and is therefore no longer freedom.
To have the power of freedom is a human right that we all equally share.
And as free individuals we all have a responsibility to do whatever we can to make sure that others can also be equally free.
Happy Independence Day – may we continue to work toward the dream that is a society that features equal freedom for all.