Independence As Choice

July 3, 2012


Yesterday and today I’ve been offering a point/counterpoint with myself on my complicated feelings about Independence Day.  Yesterday: a story of what I can’t stand about it.  Today?  A little less lengthy, a little less funny, a lot less snarky.

Today: Why Independence Day is great.

I’m a fan of holidays in general.  I like having days that remind us to stop for a second and be grateful for things in our lives.  To remind us that our lives are gifts, not obligations.  So even when people scoff at Valentine’s Day as a Hallmark Holiday (and I’m not saying they’re wrong), I feel like, yeah, but a day marked for telling the people you care about how you feel can’t be an entirely negative thing (maybe you tell them by choice, or, if mandated, your entire 4th grade class – yes, young lady, including Jimmy, I don’t care that he never blinks).

And so while the execution of the holiday may often be less than graceful there are a things about celebrating independence that are important.  Truly important.

Oh, basically it just says, “Thanks for making it official, but we’ve already moved on.”

The main thing I really like is the date of our Independence.  On the 4th of July, 1776, the colonies declare their independence from England, after the war had begun, but far from when it ended. The war unofficially ends in 1781, and officially with the Treaty of Paris in 1783.  But we don’t mark freedom with that date – the date we’re “granted” freedom and independence – we mark it with the moment we declare it to be true.  All one needs to be free is to assert it.  There may be a price, perhaps a terrible one, but that choice is always there.  As Mahatma Gandhi said, “The moment a slave decides he will no longer be a slave, his fetters fall.”  And a day to remind ourselves of that is a great thing (in this, or any country).

Also, like Veteran’s Day, or Memorial Day, something to remind ourselves that the status quo only exists through the actions of people – and that those people include ourselves in the present tense, be it as soldiers, politicians, in the streets, or the ballot box, at the podium or in the media – is important.  The world is whatever we choose it to be.  Every day that there’s good and bad in our world, it is because we have, to some degree, chosen it to be so.  And if people are free, if people have liberty, then they can make anything happen.

It may not be quick, it may not be elegant, it may not be pretty, but it’s possible.

And so happy Independence Day to all my readers, be you American, English, Indian, South African, Indonesian, et cetera.  The day may commemorate a moment in history, but the story of humanity isn’t dates.  Not really.  It’s ideas, it’s actions, it’s our wills.  Every day we either choose our independence, or we forego it.  Every day we choose what the world will be and we build it anew.

And a day to stop and remember that has to matter.

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About The Byronic Man

Recently voted "The Best Humor Site in America That I, Personally, Write," The Byronic Man is sometimes fiction, but sometimes autobiography. And sometimes cultural criticism. Oh, and occasionally reviews. Okay, it's all those different things, but always humorous. Except on the occasions that it's not. Ah, geez. Look, it's a lot of things, okay? You might like it, is the point.

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51 Comments on “Independence As Choice”

  1. Elyse Says:

    Glad you can celebrate without burning down the house — yours or anyone else’s.


  2. wvfarm2u Says:

    I appreciate your moment of taking notice. Too few we realize the effort others have made and forget we ourselves have a choice, always.


  3. Rinth Says:

    Great post! Happy Independence Day to you as well :)!


  4. EllieAnn Says:

    You’re right, history isn’t about dates it’s about people, ideas, actions . . . they’re just harder to write about than dates. It’s funny how we can all read the same story and come to different conclusions about it. I guess that’s why stories are so powerful.
    Great post!


    • The Byronic Man Says:

      History teachers get in trouble a lot for trying to show different views of history, and not just “teaching the facts,” when of course that’s the whole point.


  5. Lorna's Voice Says:

    While I’m not a fan of holidays, I do think people need to be reminded to count their blessings. Holidays do that. Nice follow-up to your blog yesterday. And let the professionals handle the pyrotechnics… 😉


  6. MJ, Nonstepmom Says:

    Eloquently said – I think I even hate Valentines Day alittle less !


  7. Go Jules Go Says:

    Ooh. I actually got a little chill when I read, “…we mark it with the moment we declare it to be true.” You make it awfully hard to believe you were ever a bitter, jaded dude, B.

    I love holidays for the same reason – and I love this post!


  8. on thehomefrontandbeyond Says:

    nicely done – “the story of humanity isn’t dates” – I like this blog as well as yesterday’s but in a different way


  9. carolofthebells Says:

    Though “he never blinks” drew an unexpected rumble from me, this is a unique, refreshing reminder about what is genuine independence. Thank you for that, too..


  10. pegoleg Says:

    The day we mark with fireworks, hot dogs and 1/2 price washing machines really commemorates the life-altering, hard decisions that real, flesh and blood people made many years ago. Thanks for the thoughtful reminder, B-man, and happy Independence Day to all Americans!


  11. freddyflow Says:

    Can’t think of anything snarky, so I hereby declare independence from having to say something clever. Happy 4th of July, and let the fetters fall!


  12. susielindau Says:

    Well said! ….stands up and claps….. But here is the really important question, “Do you wear red, white and blue for the holiday?”
    Happy 4th of July to you!


  13. mistyslaws Says:

    Very nice. A sound tribute to the day of our independance. Hope you enjoy the day with a few cold drinks and some hot dogs. See you on the flip side!


  14. Wilma Says:

    I like this more serious side to you. Nicely done.


  15. janna hill Says:

    It may not be quick, it may not be elegant, it may not be pretty, but it’s possible. Hooray for a point not emphasized enough.


  16. Audrey Says:

    Words that thrill my soul! Great post, Byronic!!


  17. Life With The Top Down Says:

    Ideas, Actions & Wills….music to my ears. Happy 4th!


  18. Angie Z. Says:

    Okay, when you put it that way…

    I love it when history is taught with lessons that revolve around people, ideas, actions and not dates. But there is something pretty cool about marking time with traditional celebrations.


  19. thesinglecell Says:

    Great post. I second Jules’ comment.


  20. List of X Says:

    I think the main problem with Independence day is that more people probably know where to get fireworks that are illegal in their state, than know about the Treaty of Paris.


    • The Byronic Man Says:

      They’d be more interested if they knew about what went on. Like at the celebration afterward when John Adams was doing the keg-stand, and Ben Franklins shot him with a bottle-rocket.


  21. Rob Says:

    “It may not be quick, it may not be elegant, it may not be pretty, but it’s possible.”

    Great statement.


  22. Walter Says:

    Awe schucks you got me, you sentimental Buddhist Man. Thanks, and happy independence to you too.


  23. mj monaghan Says:

    It’s a complex discussion when one gets into Independence. It means so many things to people. That’s what makes discourse great, and also so annoying sometimes. As long as civility is there, it’s all good. Loved this piece, B-Man!


  24. bharatwrites Says:

    Never thought of it that way, but now that you’ve mentioned it—seems obvious. Independence, by definition, cannot be granted. You become independent when you reject your shackles. Nicely written. Happy 4th!


  25. travellingmo Says:

    Really excellent piece! I love that: we are independant when we declare it to be so. I feel like I should celebrate the day by watching the John Adams miniseries for the 3rd time.


  26. racheldeangelis Says:

    Yay! What a great post! I was really feeling Independence Day this year after coming home from spending ten months in Communist China. It’s nice to have that yearly holiday/reminder that freedom should not be taken for granted, and we are all so lucky to be living in such a great country! 😎


  27. Dounia Says:

    Loved this post – it’s so well written and so true from beginning to end!


  28. Richard Wiseman Says:

    “Every day we choose what the world will be and we build it anew.” I’m a terrible builder, so if any bits of the world come apart when you touch them or won’t ‘switch on’ that may be my fault.. sorry….



  1. Holiday | One for the Big Guy.. - July 3, 2012

    […] happy and thought-filled independence day to […]

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