Independence is a word which describes our ability to be self sustaining, self sufficient and self supporting. It has long been a part of who we are as Americans. It doesn’t mean that we are no longer accountable to someone, nor does it refer to doing our own thing even if it hurts someone else.
Yesterday I was experiencing problems with Facebook. I discovered that others were too. For most of the day they were having server problems. It occurred to me just how dependent we have become on our devices and communication tools. What if the internet shut down for a day? What if, as George Orwell suggested, we were being controlled by machines? Hmm. Has that already happened?
Everything has been programmed into some memory bank. Our personal information is available to the world. Our identity can be stolen. Our ideas and words can be taken from us. We shop online. We bank online. We communicate online. We do business online and most of us spend a greater portion of our time online. In a way, we’ve become slaves to our devices. This is a scary place to be – a place of complete dependence.
When America was founded, there was no instant news. There was a lantern in a bell tower to signal that the British were coming. There were people enraged by being ruled by a tyrannical king and having to pay taxes without any benefit. They spoke to one another. Interesting concept, but I digress. They sent messages through riders on horseback. They met in community places to discuss their concerns. They were face- to-face discussing what should be done.
Those who built our country used the sweat of their brow and their backs to cut through hard soil and create fields of grain. They used ingenuity to carve through mountains and build railroads. They persevered through drought, dust storms, depressions and difficult times, because this is what they did. They fought in many wars so we could be free. Many died in the process. The cost of freedom is more than we can ever repay.
This may seem a strange message on the day we reserve for celebrating the birthday of our country, but still I think it deserves mentioning. Independence requires responsibility. The minute we depend on others for our living – use the government as our security blanket – turn our lives over to technology – blame the government for everything bad in our society – we’re giving up our independence. As Americans, we can’t let that happen.
As we celebrate this special day, we must look back – not with resentment or blame, but with hope for a better future.