Every July fourth, Americans everywhere gather to celebrate our great nation’s independence from England. More than 236 years ago, our young country was born out of war, struggle, and the collective mission of our founding forefathers (and mothers) who fought to create a homeland honoring and allowing freedom of expression, religion, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We’ve all heard the story a million times, and yet for many of us July fourth is no more than a simple summer holiday, an extra day of rest, void of most symbolic reflection and celebration other than a few fireworks and a friendly barbeque.
It’s true that it can be hard to connect meaning with the historic plight of our American predecessors, and most of us will never know what it is like to take up arms and physically fight for our beliefs. Through the passage of time and the general abundance that is part of the fabric of American life and culture, we have become diluted and disconnected from the very essence of our national heritage: what it means to be truly free.
Ok, so you might say that you are not really a patriot. And you know what? That’s okay because that’s also part of our American ethos: the privilege to choose how we express our love or loathing of the good ol’ red, white, and blue.
As I reflect on the meaning of July fourth, I realize that for me it is a celebration of choice. Independence and freedom are the emotional and physical realms of choice. Freedom is not something we can truly embrace until we experience a lack of it.
Taking our birthright for granted is not really celebrating it. Just because we are given something by American birth or naturalization does not mean that it is automatically perpetuated. The care and feeding of freedom both personally and collectively is essential for the preservation of it, not only for the greater good but also for generations to come.
This July fourth, I am opting in for freedom. Consider the following ways you might opt into the freedom experience by consciously celebrating your:
- Freedom of expression
- Emotional freedom
- Physical freedom
- Mental freedom
- Financial freedom
- Freedom from dogma
- Freedom of choice
As the sun rises and sets on your July fourth, wherever you are, American or not, consider taking a moment to honor your freedom to choose. No matter who we are, where we live, or what political system governs, we all have the freedom to be happy or the liberty to be miserable. This can be our own personal Declaration of Independence that cannot be legislated.
Take a moment to honor your inalienable right to speak your mind, to pray or not to the god of your choice, and to vote for the candidate of your choice or to be so bold as to suggest your own.
Make your voice heard. Ignite fireworks. How powerful and colorful are your fireworks? And I do hope you have them because without fire in your belly and hope, optimism, and joy in your heart, you can never experience a personal revolution or ultimate liberation.
This July fourth, make your voice heard. Create your own anthem to celebrate freedom’s song. How will you sing it? Truthfully, loudly? Or will you let it pass with the setting sun?
Most of the world does not have the opportunity to live in the sweet land of liberty because they live in an oppressed country or—even worse—an oppressed mind.
This July fourth, choose to free your mind and your world. Take a shot at releasing the internal slavery, also known as the shackles of judgment. It’s kind, legal, and free from governmental intervention. True freedom comes from a sense of liberation that exists when we remove the handcuffs of our own self-limiting beliefs to thrive and flourish regardless of what continent we reside upon, what political party is in power, or what is going on around us.
My own personal ode to joy is an anthem that I sing in spite of not being able to carry a tune. I howl at the moon because it gives me pleasure and makes me laugh. I vote even though I might not like any of the candidates, but I do it anyway because it is a right that not all people have, and I value it. In short, I define my freedom by my choices and take pride in being an American regardless of what the media broadcasts, because this sweet land of liberty came at a price. Freedom always comes at a price of war, death, and destruction either somewhere over there, over here, or inside us. So go ahead and celebrate freedom. If we don’t, then the quest for it by the generations before us was a moot exercise.
Lisa Cypers Kamen is acclaimed for her engaging blend of positive and spiritual psychology coaching, workshops, and philanthropic projects. Through her books, radio show, media appearances, and inspiring documentary films, such as “H Factor: Where Is Your Heart?,” Lisa recently launched Harvesting Happiness for Heroes, a non-profit corporation dedicated to bringing integrated psychology coaching tools and mindfulness training to Veterans and their loved ones. She has been featured on The Huffington Post, ABC and CBS television, Yahoo News, and Money Watch. You can visit Lisa on her website, Facebook or Twitter.
*Photo by SJ photography.July 4, 2012