True independence means does not mean being free,
Within simply your own right to do whatever you may choose
But being able to live peacefully, civilly and in harmony with one another—
Propelling your neighbor next to you to greater heights,
A yearning for authenticity
For belonging, community and creativity of spirit.
While our forefathers fought hard for our independence
They did not envision ego-driven individuality,
Rather, they sought a unique brand of communal harmony
In which we could all live to be free,
But also enjoy watching
And empathetically seeking the free lives of others,
Even if this meant abandoning, at times the personal freedoms
That we all see as foremost for “we.”
True independence comes from knowing who you are,
Feeling at home wherever you choose to rest your head,
Because you know that your sense of justice and fairness
Is right and mighty and true,
All breathless and wondrous at times
As you feel its weight and strength of courage upon your brow.
Once when a man laid his babies under a wooded tree to die peacefully,
After they had been shot by intruders of war and fate and dirt,
He prayed that he may live independently in heart and soul,
Each and every day with their spirits intact and glowing,
Right inside his every cell and undertaking.
Years later when other children came to feed
On forested lands that knew of no more children for him,
He welcomed them fully and with crying eyes
“Look, Look,” he said, as he pointed to corn and bread and fowl . . .
“These are for you, my young ones,”
While he then wept with laughter as he imagined his dying children
Smiling down upon the feasting youth.
When I was a young girl, my independence was hard-sought
Female and small and naive, I did not know my own strength,
As I thought that everyone else’s independence mattered
More than my own,
And in a sense at times it does,
But it took much suffering and awareness to understand
The beauty of others, and their need for freedom too.
A declaration of independence may be that I can be silent
And yet solid and loud in my presence,
As I allow myself the gifts of seeking the company of others,
Who may be so much more unfree than I am,
So that I may give them hope and love and breadth,
This is the freedom
Of a boundless and resilient soul
And of a person who truly understands
That none of us is free unless we all are.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Renée Picard
Image: Wikimedia Commons