July 4, 2011, is Independence Day — a Time to Reflect on Freedom

We’ve arrived at that time again — a time of food, fireworks, and freedom.

July 4, 2011, is upon us, and with it, all the wonderful things we’ve come to expect from a summer day.  Some of my first memories of Fourth of July celebrations involve tart lemonade, mosquito spray, and hot dogs (not all in one bite!).  It was a time to gather in the park with other cooler-toting families for a fun-filled night of spectacular sights and sounds.

But what else does this Independence Day 2011 bring?  What other messages can we take away today?

As you may know, the Fourth of July refers to July 4, 1776, and the adoption of our Declaration of Independence.  That was no small feat, for it signaled a tangible break with Great Britain and declared a very real separation.  The history of any breakaway is messy business, and this was no different.  Leaving the Motherland behind meant war.  The Declaration of Independence meant business.

And here we are in 2011 still enjoying the fruits of decisions made so long ago.

Enjoy your day today.  Have an extra hotdog and light an extra sparkler.  If you’re so inclined, maybe you could pilfer another piece of pie.  But try something else on this Fourth of July.  As you are busy having fun and splashing around in the ol’ blow-up pool, take four minutes to simply sit in silence.  In that silence, fill your mind with all the blessings in your life.  Today isn’t simply about freedom between countries, but all the blessings freedom can bring.  Can you go out in your backyard and have a political discussion without fear of your neighbors turning you in?  Can you jump in your car to visit Grandma in another state without worrying about harassment along the way?  Can you change jobs, go back to school, hold a differing viewpoint from your boss, create a free blog, or get to work on that controversial novel you’ve been wanting to write?

You see, that four minutes I suggested isn’t a bland exercise in counting.  It’s a vibrant moment of meditation that can merge the spirit of a holiday with the joys and wonderful challenges of your life.  Our nation is not in a time of complete harmony and perfection.  No nation is!  We struggle, differ, and bicker just like any other country.  But that doesn’t mean we can’t revel in the personal ways we experience freedom.  None of us were alive on July 4, 1776 (if you were, please let me know!), but we can keep the spirit alive with a declaration of our own — a declaration to love, pursue, strive, and exist.

I wish you all the best and I want for you only joy on this Fourth of July, 2011.  Make your life whatever you want it to be.

Oh, and by the way, I’m planning on two pieces of pie later.  Don’t tell!

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