Happy birthday America! We just finished celebrating another Independence Day. So, what does this mean to me. Well, it means a lot not just for the obvious but for the less than obvious, as well.
Around the middle of last year, I wanted to give myself a little project to do. In the spirit of reading, I decided that I would begin to read the biographies of each President of the United States of America, in order. Currently, I am reading Thomas Jefferson, Passionate Pilgrim: The Presidency, the Founding of the University, and the Private Battle. What is very interesting to note is that John Adams (2nd Pres.) and Thomas Jefferson (3rd Pres.), two key members (and notably friends) in the fight for independence against the British and signers of the Declaration of Independence, died on the very day in which they spent their lives fighting for- July 4th. Such readings as those like Common Sense and The Rights of Man by Thomas Paine illustrated the urgency and need for our great land to obtain its freedoms by loosening the grips of British's reign.
In another point in history -an event even more closely tied to me- America experienced another independence; the independence from an immoral past that has enslaved hundreds of thousands, if not millions of Africans when Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation that declared slaves free, and from passage of the 13th Amendment, by Congress, that outlawed slavery everywhere in the United States.
Personally, Independence Day, also allows me to reflect on my own life. First and foremost, it forces me to look in the mirror and ask myself "Am I taking advantage of the freedoms allotted to me decades earlier?" This is a key question I ask because it is my concern for all Americans (and people). Are we independent? Are our lives free from our own captivity? Is our independence capitulating to our fears? Independence Day for me means that I am free to be successful. It means that I am free to have purpose. It means that I can be great and help make others great. It means that I am free to do whatever I can to continue to make America great.
in·de·pend·ent: not influenced or controlled by others in matters of opinion, conduct, etc.; thinking or acting for oneself; an independent thinker.
I am finally learning what it means to be independent thinker, in that I have spent much of my life seeking the counsel of my mentors, parents, and friends before I made any major decision. Not that that's a bad thing but I became dependent on it, to the point where I was always indecisive. Now, I'm learning what it means to make my own path & to have the courage to follow. It's one thing to think outside the box, but it takes courage to act on it.
Side Note: It was roughly 4 million slaves that were freed. I know that b/c of a speech I memorized in high school...Henry Highland Garnett's 'Call to Rebellion' ;-)
peace & blessings