ReFire at any age: Independence Day. What does it mean to you?

By Gail Supplee Tatum, Columnist, The Times

Have you ever really thought about the significance of what this day means?

We so often look at holidays like Memorial Day and Independence Day as days off from work, to play and have fun, which is okay but we all need to take a moment to celebrate in a deeper way.

The word independence, by definition, means freedom from the control or influence of others. An easy example would be when a child grows up and leaves their home to make their own way in the world. They become independent from their parents.

One thing I think we all can agree on is that independence comes at a cost.

Throughout history, many steps have been taken towards freedom from the control or influence of others. Those steps in history didn’t happen without a fight. We had the Civil War and within that the Emancipation Proclamation. A woman’s right to vote, astoundingly, only became a reality less than one hundred years ago. The Civil Rights Act has been the longest fight for justice, starting in the year 1866 and, while we have made strides, we still have a long way to go to get it right.

In the last few years it appears that there has been some confusion about what independence means.

Currently, I find many of our Leaders, the ones who are supposed to be guiding this country forward, are instead moving us backwards and not advancing.

Having said that, we can’t throw our hands up and say, “Whatever”, but instead do our individual part in shifting our country forward, like voting and/or getting involved at the local level.

May we think of freedom not as the right to do as we please, but as the opportunity to do what is right. Peter Marshall

America isn’t easy. It’s hard to listen to others who have a different opinion and view than you but part of being an American is accepting the difference without it influencing your opinion.

What also makes it difficult is when what’s happening instills fear, worry and anxiety in us. There is nothing more crippling to our peace, prosperity and purpose in life. We can’t do it alone, though. We can only overcome fear through love, with the support of others and to follow our higher power, whatever that is for you. The fact is, with every friendship you make and every bond of trust you establish, you are shaping the image of America projected to the rest of the world. Michelle Obama

Even though the world around us might be saying the opposite of what our beliefs are, we must endure and stand for what Independence Day means to us, because that’s where it starts.

For me, Life is to know my purpose and what I was put here on earth to do and be. Liberty is my responsible use of freedom without depriving anyone else of theirs. The Pursuit of Happiness by doing those things that serve my purpose, which for me, in a nutshell, is helping people, young and old by being present in the moment,  listening more than talking with compassion and empathy. Peace on Earth, which is the ultimate goal.

It begins with each and every one of us, individually.

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