True change is never immediate but our choices plant seeds that our actions water. Unrest often leads to declarations of intent yet it’s what we do with those good intentions that make the difference. In 1776, a resolution “declar[ing] the United Colonies free and independent States, absolved from allegiance to or dependence on the Crown or Parliament of Great Britain…” was presented to the Continental Congress. Copies of this Declaration were distributed throughout the colonies and other territories upon its adoption. That Declaration of Independence was adopted on the 4th of July but signed a month later, created a year into an ongoing rebellion against Britain, first recognized nearly two years later, and officially acknowledged after seven more years of war when the 13 participating colonies became the country we now know as The United States of America in 1783. That initial dawning of independence did not create freedom. In declaring ourselves free, we stated our intent. An intention that would’ve been but a footnote in history had we not been willing to put in the work, take the risks, and suffer the losses.
“To safeguard democracy the people must have a keen sense of independence, self-respect, and their oneness.”
— Mahatma Gandhi
Allies are another important part of any revolution. French involvement was crucial to The American Revolutionary War and it was the Treaty of Paris that officially recognized the independence of The United States. Some Americans think France should be beholden to us for our role in World War II but it was the least we could do, considering we may not have existed as the country we are without them. Whether revolting against the status quo or our own unrest, support is key. The American Revolution started with individuals addressing injustices and led to fellow colonists, united colonies, then allied countries working together for a greater good. From the moment we decide our circumstances must change, we are fighting for or against that goal with each choice we make. The alliances we choose decide which seeds are watered; a lack of support can stunt their growth, negativity – especially our own – can damage our revolution at its roots, and discouragement may cause drought but even small actions taken with intent can revive a thirsty ideal. We create our world through action and can change the world when we take action together: “Injustice in the end produces independence.” — Voltaire
Raise a mug to independence: (|_|*Happy 4th of July*|_|)
By celebrating the birth of an independent nation, we honor not only the individual freedoms that makes possible but the unity that shared struggle creates. Our liberation came at a terrible price, many of our most important lessons were learned too late, the ideals we declared with our independence have yet to be fulfilled, but we’re a work in progress and we can’t give up. By securing liberty for any of us, we ensure the fight can continue for all of us. When we remember that America was created by rebels and immigrants, we understand it’s not exceptionalism that makes us great but diversity. Our independence is founded on diversity and equality; as they continue to grow, we will become the world citizens that requires of us. We must respect the rights and freedoms of others in order to protect our own, seeking justice and defying injustice. Rebellion begins with questioning as conditioning and fear are twin pillars of the status quo – designed to keep questioning to a minimum. Although our options may be limited and our freedoms will be challenged, our ‘unalienable Rights’ begin with freedom of thought and therein lie the seeds of change.
“Independence is my happiness, and I view things as they are,
without regard to place or person; my country is the world,
and my religion is to do good.”
— Thomas Paine
To embrace the independence of being free from outside control, we must exercise the independence of thinking for ourselves. Any freedoms we’re granted or opportunities we’re provided should be a beginning, not the end. Only we can declare our intention, claim our independence, and exercise our freedom. Those choices plant seeds of possibility that are nurtured by our actions and influences. Despite varying degrees of privilege, we are not truly free if we’re not willing to imagine a world radically different than the one we know. That willingness, that independence of thought, is what the 4th of July is really about. Few freedoms exist that new thinking didn’t help create. Even our intrinsic liberties require creative thinking to be put to dynamic use. Whatever your country, don’t let your life be dictated by circumstance. Don’t settle for declaring what you want. Revel in that victory and find ways to start implementing what you envision. Whether the changes you imagine are large or small, take the action your current circumstances allow then build on that as things begin to change. Be patient but persistent, avoiding the drought of inaction and the acid rain of self-doubt. The seeds of good we plant for ourselves or the world, can and should be watered: “True independence is a state of mind, not of being.”*
“The first thing I want to teach is disloyalty, till they get used to disusing that word loyalty as representing a virtue. This will beget independence – which is loyalty to one’s best self and principles, and this is often disloyalty to the general idols and fetishes.”
— Samuel Clemens, Mark Twain’s Notebook
*I’m quoting Phyllis Dorey Thiessen, aka my mum; watch for the post of that story, coming soon..