Happy Independence Day! There are lots of flags, stars and firecrackers everywhere these days. Advertisers and businesses pull out all the patriotic stops to get your attention. After all, aren’t you being a good American by spending money? Seriously, sometimes the red, white and blue can be overkill if there’s no respect or sentiment behind it.
I love to see Old Glory flying high. Every time I pass the HUGE flag at the car dealer at Rapids and Transit, it fills me with pride. This is a tiny business that flies the colors all year long in a BIG way. Schoolchildren marching in construction paper hats with stick-on stars make me proud, but not as proud as those kids feel as they parade by. Fireworks are a beautiful, shared experience…the collective oohs and ahhs bring goosebumps. At our Farmer’s Market yesterday, My 5 year old niece Darian was dancing by the gazebo, wearing a balloon hat and proudly waving her flag to Aunt Bea’s patriotic music. She may not know the history yet, but she knows it’s America’s birthday and a cause for celebration!
Independence means freedom. Freedom to do what? As much as we bristle about politics, taxes and government restrictions, we are the luckiest people in the world. Right now our armed forces are fighting in countries where people kill each other because they are a different color, a different religion or hold different views. I can worship openly, share community events with Baptists, Methodists, Catholics, Jews, Protestants and atheists. I can agree to disagree with my Republican friends J and vote however my heart tells me to, in every election, from school board to President of the United States. It is a privilege I do not take lightly! I work as an Election Inspector because I am proud to be part of the process.
As a writer, I am allowed to express my opinion and ideas without censorship. Freedom of the Press is vital, even if I have my own ideas about media going too far sometimes. I really wish there was less sex and violence in books, movies and music, but until they decide to voluntarily clean up their act, I have the right to tune out or turn off that which offends me. It is my responsibility to see that young children in my own world are protected from exposure to inappropriate behavior in the media. Now, I think that word “Responsibility” is really what Independence means.
With Independence and Freedom comes Responsibility! Whatever choices my freedom allows me cannot be made without regard for the consequences. I can’t complain about intrusive government and paying taxes, and then complain that someone is not “protecting” me from everything in life. In our sue-happy society, we look for someone to blame every time we break a fingernail or trip on our own feet. Only in America could you sue someone for not telling you your hot coffee is hot, so don’t spill it in your lap! The bottom line is, we don’t need the government to protect our kids from everyday things like media smut, fireworks, drugs, frisky dogs, too much sugar in food or a baseball in the face. It all comes down to “Watch your kids.” Know what they are doing. Accept personal responsibility for life and teach them to do the same. Accidents happen; life happens to the best of us. Stop looking for someone to blame for every little thing that displeases you; pick yourself up, dust yourself off, get a band-aid for life’s little wounds…and get on with it!
Thank God (or Allah, or Buddha) that you live in this glorious country and can live your life as you choose. With all of its problems and drudgery, life in America is the culmination of a dream that brought our ancestors to these shores. It is the precious gift borne of blood, sweat and sacrifice of previous generations. What sacrifices are we making for generations to come? Cherish your independence, revel in your freedom, but accept responsibility for the future of our nation. It is in OUR hands.
Say a prayer for the men and women in our armed forces across the world, those who paid the supreme price in defense of freedom, and the families they leave behind. Blessed are the peacekeepers.