During some recent travels, I found myself once again engrossed, in Tom Wood’s book Nullification. As I read through a particular passage, it occurred to me that my past Fourth of July celebrations have been somewhat misguided.
I paused and recalled the section of the Declaration of Independence that discussed “…free and Independent States.” But what was the trade-off? I wondered. Becoming “free and independent states” compared to what?
At that point in history – and really, I think for all of time – “free and independent states” stand in direct contrast to dependence on a singular, monolithic power dictating how our wealth is allocated and what we may or may no do as we walk through our daily lives.
Why do I think decentralized states choosing their own destiny, associations and relationships is better than one entity determining everything for them? I guess you could ask: why is walking better than crawling for a child?
As parents, we all hope our children will eventually grow up. We nurture our kids, teach them, instill values in them, and eventually we push them out of the nest to fly on their own. We celebrate their independence when they graduate college. We praise them for standing on their own two feet when they land that first job or purchase their own home.
Because we recognize independence as progress, a sign of maturity. In the early years, children need guidance for many simple activities, like washing hands or having manners. But as they grow up, parents grant them more freedoms and allow them to make their own choices. Instead of dictating their every move, we encourage them to recognize the value created by voluntary interdependence, such as choosing good friends, business partners and spouses. We call it growing up. And we recognize the inherent goodness of maturity.
With this in mind, I realized I’ve misunderstood the Fourth of July. For many years, I glorified forced dependence, not independence or voluntary interdependence. So this year, as I light off a few fire crackers and take in a fireworks show, I’m determined to celebrate the true meaning of the holiday.
Here are a few things I will not celebrate.
- I will not celebrate a United States Federal government that has become a monolithic determinant to the pursuit of individual happiness
- I will not celebrate a false philanthropy where government takes from one group in order to give to others who manage to fill out the correct form, or fit some arbitrary criteria that somehow qualifies them to plunder the wealth of another. This type of theft robs individuals of generosity and steals gratitude from intended receiver leaving the former with resentment and the latter with entitlement.
- I will not celebrate theft of life in undeclared wars, stealing fathers and mothers from their children, robbing children of parental wisdom and discipline in exchange for the glorification of a central government.
- I will not celebrate the federally created 1% and federally created 99% through implementation of forced, false economies and manipulation of currency which people use for their daily livelihood.
- I will not celebrate a federal government that assumes the power of nanny and police, dictating what is and is not to be taught to our children, legalizing the immoral and reprehensible while making illegal what is healthful and good. Nor will I celebrate the imprisonment of those who violate the self-absorbed edicts of such a government.
- I will not celebrate forced associations requiring people to participate together unnaturally by law and through pretended desires.
But this doesn’t mean I won’t celebrate the Fourth. In fact, I plan to celebrate in earnest. But instead of reveling in fabricated patriotism, I will remember the true magnitude of the Declaration and the meaning of independence.
- I choose to celebrate “Free and Independent States,” including my state of Florida, as well as your state.
- I choose to celebrate choice by states to do within their borders as they see fit, and to maintain relationships with their neighbors as agreed to among their people and through interactions with the people of other states.
- I choose to celebrate the removal of a monolithic royal English government, replacing it with smaller governments of the several states.
- I choose to celebrate local communities where people choose to be generous and those whose needs are met can be grateful to the true giver. I will celebrate creativity of ideas, encouraged and developed among like-minded people where unity is a choice defined by individual criteria.
- I choose to celebrate churches, schools, businesses and groups who focus NOT on the intangible “planet” or “nation,” but on families and individuals comprising their customers, congregations, members or student bodies, and even those that choose not to participate with others in group settings.
- I choose to celebrate the family unit where individuals are joined together and able to create and mold their children. Where teaching INDEPENDENCE from birth to adulthood can be effectively encouraged and celebrated. Where forced dependence can be discouraged, but voluntary interdependence can be experienced. Where learning can be natural and immediately practical; from crawling and walking to listening and speaking; from making a mess to cleaning up your own stuff, and even helping others clean up their stuff. Where mistakes can be forgiven, forgotten and learned from with temporary pain instead of lifelong heartache.
- I choose to celebrate the Individual with a spirit to direct, a mind to think and a body to act as is consistent with their contentment. Who understand the laws of Nature and celebrates sowing and reaping that which is good. Who seeks to meet his own needs and desires; and, if he chooses, is able to meet the needs of others.
- I choose to celebrate Nature’s God who established the universe (“uni-” means one, “verse-” means spoken sentence)for his pleasure and the pleasure of the individual. Who allowed for choice and consequence, both good and painful. Who placed pleasure and pain as lessons and celebrations, and who established the sovereignty of the individual.
This Fourth of July, will you explode fireworks to celebrate a central government that claims its borders that extend from “sea to shining sea”? Will you hang balloons and ribbons because of an almost worship-like “patriotism” for “one nation”? Will you hang a flag for a government that had ZERO to do with the Independence fought for in 1776?
Regardless of how most “Americans” think, I hope you will be a state’s man or woman. For me, that means I’m a Floridian, while for you it may mean you’re a Californian or Alaskan. A Texan or Georgian. No, states aren’t perfect, and I don’t think anyone will argue our federal government isn’t either. With regard to states, however, they are more tangible and more influenceable than a centralized federal government. By keeping things localized, we can build a life that works best within the culture and conditions in our area. What is perfection during this life but the ability to freely choose that which is best for you, while doing no harm, or as little harm as possible to others. Asking for forgiveness when you don’t meet the mark.
The Declaration of our Independence was a DECLARATION – away from a National government and toward decentralized states and individuals. No one in history can celebrate independence more than you and I within the borders of our states.
This 4th of July, celebrate INDEPENDENCE, not dependence.