"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."
- The Declaration of Independence, by Thomas Jefferson, U.S. President (1801-1809)
There is explicit slavery and implicit slavery, and most of us are tied up in chains of some kind.
Often we do not see these chains. Maybe we've been trained not to see them. Or somebody said that they fully ought to exist.
The lesson of July 4 is that we have the right to live in freedom. It is not only a war fought and won nearly 250 years ago. It is an aspiration, it is a way of life, it is a global dream, and it is the ultimate American value.
We must fight for our freedom, and for the freedom of other people, every single day. We understand instinctively, very early on, that no human can be our true Creator, our boss. In the words of women's rights activist Gloria Steinem, we realize exactly this:
"You're not the boss of me."
Here is what I personally believe. None of us came into this world at random. We have a purpose given to us by the One Above. Our life is dedicated to finding and serving it. And we will account for our deeds, including how close we got to the target, when we cross into the next Existence.
All of our efforts depend on cognition. The realization that we have stuff to do over here, and we have the right to choose to do it - or not. We can get lost in glamorous illusions like money, or addicted to pursuits that waste our time.
But the only thing that has any meaning is carrying out our mission. And we cannot do that if we are, mentally or physically, or in any way, slaves to somebody else. We must be free.
Freedom always requires a declaration, even that battle cry is only a "still small voice," as Rabbi Nachman of Breslov put it, inside your head.
You must see yourself as equal to all others in worth. Not inherently better, and not inherently worse. In the words of Aunt Eller from the classic musical Oklahoma,
"I don't say I'm no better than anybody else, but I'll be danged if I ain't just as good!"
Freedom is the joy of watching the fireworks. It is the joy of the flame that dances inside of you, when you realize that nobody can truly own you unless you give them permission.
The precious and hard-won nature of freedom makes July 4th one of my favorite holidays. There are always those petty dictators, some of them well-known and others who will be known only to you.
Freedom is an inalienable right. Know that a human being who behaves like a tyrant has no business having authority over any of them. As the Declaration states:
"A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Wishing everyone a happy, safe, and meaningful holiday.