As the 4th of July rolls around every year, houses across the country adorn their porches with billowing flags, and stadiums of people erupt in a prideful sing-song about what it is to be an American.
Meanwhile, I am struck by the blatant irony of this day.
Not only are we celebrating a freedom that was built upon slaughter and cultural defacement, but we also boast about a freedom that most of us do not actually live.
Inequality and discrimination make true freedom nearly impossible for most of our country. And even those of us who are lucky enough to have our basic needs met, struggle to truly live freely.
How many of us are truly free when we are prisoners of our own judgement and insecurities?
What good is our freedom when we continue to restrain ourselves from following our hearts?
What is true peace when we are at war with ourselves?
What is true freedom when we enslave ourselves in a futile quest to prove our worth?
While we celebrate independence, many of us are still in dependence—we are depending upon outside validation and approval.
We are not free to unconditionally love ourselves and others. We are imprisoned by our own beliefs about how life should be different.
Our country may have declared its independence, but many of us have not declared our independence from our own shame and feelings of unworthiness.
I believe that true freedom is the freedom to love yourself, others, and your life regardless of circumstances.
And once you have that kind of freedom, as Lee Greenwood states in his song, “Proud to Be an American”:
“‘Cause the flag still stands for freedom and they can’t take that away.”
But “they” can’t give it, either.
Yes, thank God our country fights to keep (some) of us safe. But it cannot make us free.
A document doesn’t make us free.
A treaty doesn’t make us free.
A country doesn’t make us free.
A government doesn’t make us free.
As Bob Marley so powerfully commanded in “Redemption Song,” the last song he ever wrote, we must:
“Emancipate ourselves from mental slavery. None but ourselves can free our minds.”
Only we can make ourselves free.
We have to give ourselves permission to be free, even when others tell us that we have no right.
Freedom is a gift we can give to ourselves.
So, rather than using 4th July day to celebrate a superficial freedom that most of us do not really get to experience, why not use the day next year as a rallying cry for every one of us to commit to discovering true freedom for ourselves?
I believe that a nation is truly free when its people are free enough from their own mental shackles that they can choose to use their unique gifts in service of something greater than themselves.
I’d like to re-contextualize Independence Day. I’d like to stop pretending that we are free because a document told us so and instead use this day to take responsibility for our own freedom.
I am helping people emancipate themselves from their own mental slavery. The business of connecting people to their own, internal source of true, unconditional freedom.
This means being released from dependency on others’ approval and validation.
This means being released from prejudice toward ourselves and discrimination against our own hearts’ desires.
We are part of a global tribe that is releasing people from the prison of their minds and freeing them to love without depending.
So, let’s band together and stop taking freedom for granted and start taking committed action toward creating our own freedom.
Author: Brandilyn Tebo,
Image: @walkthetalkshow on Instagram
Editor: Sara Kärpänen
Copy Editor: Khara-Jade Warren
Social Editor: Khara-Jade Warren