On this day 229 years ago, America’s founders declared that events compelled them to “assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them”. We would do well to consider, in this age of interconnectedness and interdependence, the nature of our independence.
First, whether individually or as a nation, our independence does not mean aloofness or icy isolationism. The free and independent person helps his neighbor and often sacrifices what is his for the good of another and so too must nations. I believe this to be the a fundamental requirement of independence and freedom all too often forgotten by those who wish to harbor what they have selfishly. All of us have had the benefit, at one time or another in our lives, of the charity of others. Whether it was money, an opportunity or merely a kind word at the right time.
But the independent person, or nation, gives voluntarily, out of compassion not because the neighbor has a claim to what is his. This is equally important to the person giving and receiving the charity. If freedom is to be maintained, the giver must be free to give, and the receiver must be kept free from the restraints of dependence. Not knowing when or where the charity will end goads the receiver to insure he makes the most of his opportunity. Gifts given out of compassion, not out of compulsion, also spurs gratitude and a desire to repay what has been given.
We are interdependent, both as people and nations, for our survival. But coerced, codified and taxed cooperation destroys freedom and initiative making us not reliant on people but on the state. My hope for this Independence Day is that, as Americans, we can begin to reverse some of the “coerced cooperation” schemes we have in place, and begin to return to true freedom and independence.