What Does Independence Mean to You?

It’s July 4, here in the US, our Independence Day. We celebrate with parades, cookouts, and fireworks. Lots and lots of fireworks.

I’m a fan of watching fireworks. And, I’m a fan of independence. And, I bet my notion of independence might not be the same as yours.

Here’s what independence means to me:

  • I have autonomy to do almost anything I want to do. Yes, there’s an almost there, because I live in a greater society. Our culture defines our general mores—our accepted conventions and customs. One of those unacceptable customs is to yell, “Fire!” in a crowded place if there is no fire.
  • I have the liberty to change my autonomy—again inside the culture. If I want a different set of liberties, I might need to change my culture. I can change my choices, as long as my choices do not infringe on the liberty of others. Think about smoking in non-smoking hotel rooms. If I smoked, I could change hotels or smoke in a designated place outside.
  • I have the freedom to choose how I live, including the work I do and—at least to some extent—how I do that work. I choose my clients, my work, and how I perform that work. Because I am self-employed, I have the risks of insufficient (or too much) work.

Independence might mean something a little different for you. I’m going with autonomy, liberty, and freedom for now.

I have autonomy to decide how, where, and when I work. And, what that work is. Not everyone has that same freedom.

I have the liberty to choose from among the various subcultures in our society and find my friends and colleagues in those subcultures.

Do I have the same physical freedom as a non-handicapped person? Of course not. I need to use various assistive devices to have some amount of physical freedom.

On the other hand, I have as much emotional and intellectual freedom as (almost) anyone else does in the US.

I am thankful we celebrate Independence Day every year.

I am thankful I am a US citizen and regardless of how fractured we are as a country right now, I believe that we will (eventually) join together on principles of independence: autonomy, liberty, and freedom. (I’ve started to read history to see how we as a country have done this in the past.)

That’s why I ask this question today. My definition of independence might not be the same as yours. It’s an important question.

Have a great Independence Day, my US friends and colleagues. And, to those of you who are not US citizens, I wish you a life of independence. Of autonomy, liberty, and freedom. Wherever you are in the world.

The National Archives has a terrific explanation of the Constitution, some history, and its meaning.

The question of the week is: What does independence mean to you?

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