What Does Your Indepedence Buy?

Photo courtesy of Mark Persons of Gilbert Lodge Blog

independent: adj 1. Not governed by a foreign power; self-governing. 2. Free from the influence, guidance, or control of another or others; self-reliant. 3. Not determined or influenced by someone or something else; not contingent 4. Not relying on others for support, care, or funds, self-supporting.

To see how we celebrate on the Fourth of July—barbecues, parades and fireworks—it’s easy to forget we’re celebrating Independence Day.  While these outward expressions reminds us of the freedoms we now enjoy, the excess in food and fanfare often overshadow the sacrifices that brought them about.

I enjoy these community and family celebrations, but this year my personal remembrance is an inward expression of gratitude for the lessons of independence I’ve learned.

Since last year’s festivities the retracting economy has hit most people in the Untied States in one way or another. We’ve personally experienced the economic hardships of the past year and seen its effect on others. In each case, I sense that the more difficult adjustment is not just the loss of material things that money can buy but the fear that we will lose our independence.

We saw this in the movie we watched this week, Cinderella Man.  The boxer James Braddock is forced to leave boxing with a broken hand during the Great Depression. He and his wife struggle in poverty to keep their family intact. Later, he’s given an opportunity to make a comeback in boxing.  In a press conference he expresses his change of perspective. “This time,” he said, “I’m fighting for milk.”

While we’ve done without many material things this year, that movie and the John Adams HBO series we’re also watching remind me that our physical sacrifices seem insignificant to what previous generations gave.

The fear of losing our economic independence as individuals and as a country is frightening; yet, when we sacrifice what we thought we needed materially we also choose to reacquaint ourselves with what we’re truly fighting for.

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