As many of us take vacation from our lives this week, do not forget to ask yourself if you are independent.
The founding fathers declared their independence from the tyranny of Great Britain in 1776, but if you read the document carefully and reflect on your personal situation and the status of citizens in our country. Are you independent? Is independence the same as freedom and liberty?
In the years prior to the Civil War, Frederick Douglas gave his famous Fifth of July speech. If you have never read it, you should. Did African Americans have independence? Do they now?
What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer; a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sound of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciation of tyrants brass fronted impudence; your shout of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanks-givings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are to him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy — a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of the United States, at this very hour.
The lack of independence or freedom is not exclusive to African Americans. Women face many inequalities still. One example of this is income, where women still only make 77 cents to the dollar of their male counterparts. If this inequality exists in an area easily measurable and reportable, where else do you think this exists?
US Catholic Bishops have called for a Fortnight for Freedom because of the growing persecution of religion on one of the majority religions in the United States. Again, if Roman Catholic views are being suppressed, what about less popular religions?
I don’t have a link for this one, but both political parties have their own plan for illegal immigrants, who braved death to flee to the United States for a better life, for the values espoused by Jefferson and the founding fathers. Now, mainstream politicians are trying to write laws for them and determine their fate. Shouldn’t they be part of the conversation?
This Independence Day, please review your history. This country was founded on strong principles of freedom and liberty. I propose that these ideals are likely unachievable for everyone all the time, but like any noble pursuit, one should not stop the pursuit simply because there is enough freedom or liberty. Rather, we all should stand and speak for the voiceless. Open the ears of our leaders. Educate the young. While we are a country with unprecedented freedom and liberty, there is still work to be done. Each of you can make that difference.