08 Jul Independence!
Less than 250 years ago, 13 colonies declared independence from the British Empire:
“by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain,”
That was just the beginning of independence declarations.
Less than one generation later, we fought the Civil War to give slaves the right to declare independence from their masters. Only a few decades later, the Temperance Movement gave women the right to declare independence from a marriage and still have rights to their children, property and eventually the right to vote. The Civil Rights Movement declared independence from institutional bias. The Gay Rights movement declared independence from conventional marriage to choose a partner for love.
Each of these declarations of independence was empowered by the one before. These declarations feel so right.
But choosing independence is not an easy path.
It was hard to convince all the colonies to break with the Empire and allegiance to the Crown. After the Civil War, former slaves didn’t stay in place and get paid, they had to leave their homes to find work. When women left their husbands, they were rejected by society, and even with a job, were unable to get credit to buy a home without another man co-signing. After Rosa Parks’ civil disobedience prevailed, it was hard to take a seat in a section previously prohibited when everyone’s eyes were on you. Today, it may be legal to marry whomever you choose, but it still takes real commitment to love someone your parent will not.
Independence Day celebrates that we have the freedom to choose. But also, we pay tribute to the courageous who choose independence.
For example, congratulations to the US World Cup 2019 champs! Especially Alex Morgan, for having the wit to remind the British why we revolted almost 250 years ago – it all started with the Boston Tea Party, didn’t it?
And as for Nike’s retraction of the Betsy Ross flag sneaker, that wasn’t as courageous as the colonists who sacrificed their lives for independence, so their children could go on to sacrifice their lives to abolish slavery.
Independent thinking isn’t easy. But it’s what makes this country great. Just do it!