Today is July 4th and in the United States we celebrate “Independence Day” – the day we declared our break from Great Britain and its traditionally seen as the day when the Declaration of Independence was signed.
(The truth is the Declaration of Independence was signed over many days, since back in the late 1700’s the government representatives had to make their way to Philadelphia by horse or carriage for many days to sign the document from where-ever they lived, but that’s a different story!)
Regardless of our national origin story, I can’t help but look across the globe and see other people in other countries fighting for their own independence whether it is Brazil, Egypt or elsewhere. The struggles each nation faces to achieve independence is often a matter of how strong the will of the people are to make that change.
In the United States we didn’t like having to pay British taxes and be subject to the laws of what amounted to a “foreign” sovereign when we had our ‘own thing’ going on here. (I’m no historian. :-D) It’s not easy for a colonizer to hang onto a country when the main government is thousands of miles away, especially when people who live locally see the colonizer as the oppressor.
I really admire Ghandi, for example, in the way he mobilized his people and managed to overthrow a generation of British rule out of India.
Here in the U.S. I think we’ve lost touch with the concept of independence, even as our middle class slides into oblivion and working class families become more and more dependent on a government that does not provide sufficient support systems. I can’t even count how many times I’ve heard on television news programs about how wages in this country have stagnated for the better part of 30 years.
So today, on our day of celebration for our national independence and freedom, I’d say it’s time we think about what we mean by freedom and independence and then decide if we need to make any changes to how our government operates to ensure our democracy remains stable and viable well into the future.
Addendum: But one thing I do not take for granted is my ability as a U.S. citizen to criticize my government publically when I disagree with its policies and practices. That freedom of speech is alive and well.
Now, with the meteoric growth of the internet, we can hope the citizens of other nations can also take advantage of their new found freedoms to express themselves on the things in their countries that aren’t working, and apply civil pressure to change them.