Happy 4th of July! Just pondering some things on this Independence day, mostly what’s in a word and do the words we use matter? They do, they are vitally important, words shape thoughts and they become narratives. From a faith-based perspective, words are so powerful, our Lord is called The Word. You could say we ourselves were once spoken into existence.
Where I live in the 9th circuit of hell, which often seems to be a bit like a playground for everyone’s utopian visions, there’s been a push the past few years to change Independence Day to Inter-dependence Day. It’s somewhat amusing, in an area full of rugged individualists, seeking never-ending counter-cultural I-dentities, independence has become a bad word that makes some people uncomfortable. It’s an odd juxtaposition, because the very same freedom and independence that grants people the liberty to pursue their individualism, is being shunned.
Spiritually I love the concept of inter-dependence, neighbors helping neighbors, a sense of community, family, church bodies recognizing how we are all part of the Body of Christ. So one would never allow a foot infection to develop and then declare, “oh well, my foot is independent from my leg.” What impacts one person, impacts us all. Communities are collective relationships, we are all inter-dependent, one upon the other.
That is where my appreciation for inter-dependence begins and ends however, in the spiritual, in the realm of relationships, church, and community. We are all somewhat dependent on one another and when we recognize that our communities become healthier.
In terms of the 4th of July however, in forgetting the why and wherefore of our traditions, this is not so good. Independence Day is aptly named such for a reason. It marks our own independence as a nation, it calls us to remember the huge struggles and the lives sacrificed in order to create independence, freedom and liberty for all, with a heavy emphasis on individual rights.
Those who signed our Declaration of Independence where not poor, down trodden, oppressed men, they were mostly highly educated men of means and wealth, who had everything to lose by signing that document and nothing to gain. All they had was a vision that they understood could cost them everything. They vowed to give it all up, even their lives, for sacred honor. Every one of them seems to have lived up to that vow, most lost their property, their families, and eventually their lives.
Sacred honor is a difficult concept to define, but it was an oath taken when they signed that document, the simple act of signing an automatic death warrant, a treason sentence. They weren’t going to gain wealth, power, and status here, they were going to reap the loss of all their worldly possessions, their families, and their lives. They sacrificed everything they had for this elusive idea of freedom, backed up by their sacred honor.
We are inter-dependent, one upon the other, in the sense that we stand upon what those men did, their vision, their sacrifice, their sacred honor that granted us our independence. Not our inter-dependence, our independence. Without freedom, liberty, individual rights, independence, we do not have the means or the framework to create the kind of communities we wish to see.
The synonyms for “independence” are self-reliance, self-sufficiency, self-subsistence, all themes revolving around personal responsibility and individual rights.. That is the essence of freedom, those are qualities handed to us by men who gave their very lives for sacred honor. Before we attempt to super impose our own utopian visions and to rewrite the narrative, we need to take a hard look at what “independence” really means and how we actually cook our own goose by trying to change it to “Inter-dependence Day.”
***********REPOST from 2016. Happy 4th of July, everyone!