Independence of Mind

Douglass-young

I’m not at all against celebrating the Fourth of July, if independence includes the freedom to choose what to believe or not believe, how to live, whom to love.

If people are celebrating basic human rights including the right not to celebrate, the right to protest, the right to stand for the anthem and say the pledge, or not to.  That’s worth honoring, in my mind.

Celebrating a day when a group of white men, most of whom were slaveowners, signed a document stating “all men are created equal” and all are entitled to “liberty” is not necessarily a bad thing.

It’s all about recognizing who is left out, who is being forgotten, intentionally or unintentionally.

Each Fourth of July, my wife and I read Frederick Douglass’ 1852 speech in Rochester, NY.  The former slave celebrates the Day of Independence by acknowledging the greatness of the country and the founders and then, by using his free mind and free body to speak freely about the great national sickness of slavery.

“What to a Slave is the Fourth of July?”

I suggest more Americans should read that speech, and ask ourselves what other kind of national sicknesses are present this Fourth, that will still be making us ill on the Fifth.

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2 thoughts on “Independence of Mind

  1. I was pleased to see your reference to celebrating the freedom of thought and belief. I made a similar observation in my own blog, Agents of Reason, this morning:

    “In spite of all the issues before us, there is actually no shortage of patriotism, but more than ever, it comes in two forms. The traditional “I love America” patriotism is surely in evidence. But so, too, is an equally dedicated cohort that loves America’s promise, that finds its expression of patriotism in calling us to live up to our promise as the country founded on an idea. I am happy to count friends among both of these groups of patriots.”

    Happy 4th, indeed. Work to be done, but one hopes we are up to it.

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