Soon we will commemorate and/or celebrate Independence Day in the U.S. Historically, this means we are celebrating freedom from tyranny and the right to our life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Today, in these chaotic times, these words and this celebration are more important than ever. 

While our nation seems to have become divided and too many people and leaders seem to be more concerned with winning and control, our American democracy looks like it is hanging by a thread…. It is the perfect time to look at the idea of this day and the democracy and freedom that it stands for.

This holiday we all are to honor the right to live in a democracy and choose the sort of country we want to be. We also honor the dissent that is part of our patriotic history. Rather than be angry at the “other” side of the political spectrum, understand that different perspectives coming together is exactly what our political system was built on. That is why we have more than one political party… to keep the democracy, to keep people questioning our leaders to make sure “they” are acting “for the people”… and to share in respectful discord so that we can come together for solutions that work for ALL the people. 

BUT, when our government does not truly represent the people or the majority of what the people in this country want {no matter what their sex is or isn’t, the color of their skin or what their political affiliation is}, there is a problem with our freedom and democracy. When the wealthy, who have no empathy and/or are living with blinders on in a very different world than those they represent, control the laws and rules, there is a problem. When one side will not negotiate or listen to the other side, there is no democracy. 

And while debates are a good thing when both sides can truly listen and learn, the format can be a hinderance when either side is only there to defend their point of view. Part of the problem in today’s political system is that the debates tend to be all about defense and ridicule, which only ingrains the differences and does nothing for compromise and/or solutions. Really listening to each other, empathizing with each other, and trying to work together to facilitate solutions is the focus to initiate real change. 

We currently have a lot of issues and propaganda that plays into building a hatred for those who disagree with us…on whatever side “they” are identifying with. Because of all the dissentions do we currently have a threat of losing our democracy??  Are we still free?  How do we celebrate the day that exemplifies the freedom of democracy in the U.S. with so many issues facing our country?

We individually {the “place” where you can work from and the only place you can control} open our hearts up to others and their perspectives. We listen rather than talk. We come together in debates without hatred and/or prejudgments and open minds and hearts. We keep questioning and observing our leadership and the rights of the people. We become observant about our laws and the loopholes that take away democracy. We fight for things we want to be better for humanity in the best way we can.  We keep protesting and fighting for equality and justice in our own ways. We keep debating, questioning, and challenging our leaders at every level. We make them know we are listening to them and see their actions.  And we vote.  And we remind those who want to shut down the dissent with hatred, that by doing so, they are shutting down patriotism and what it means to be an American. They are shutting down what was fought for and paid for by Americans and supporters of America.

This day does not represent a country that was built on blindly following a leader or party or a specific faith. No, this day represents the freedom to be who you are, the freedom to disagree, the freedom of speech, the freedom to vote for change, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, freedom to have your own faith and worship as you see fit, freedom to protest, and the democracy of the majority of the people.

No matter which side you are on in your political spectrum, no matter what your faith or beliefs are, our life and how we live in this country is worth fighting for, worth having pride in for all we have built on all levels; mind, body, and spirit…. and very much worth celebrating. 

As you wave your American flag proudly today, remember what the celebration truly is and those who paid the price for us to celebrate. Remember the principles that were hard fought for and the sacrifices that were made to be able to live in a country where we all have the freedom to disagree, and to debate, and to come to a new conclusion. Remember that it was built by people from different countries, cultures, and beliefs and that we all have a place on this land, and we all belong…and we all are free.   

Happy life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness….