A little liberty is a beautiful thing
So we’ve moved on from Independence Day and into the weekend, but it’s part of the tradition of holidays to take a moment when all the activities are done to reflect for a second on the day past and what it means, whether that’s the people you spent it with, or the memories you made, or those you no longer are able to share them with, or the significance of the holiday itself (does anyone EVER take the time on labor Day to reflect on the importance of organized labor? I’ll bet not! But I digress…)
Obviously, the context of the Independence Day celebration is the recognition of the many acts which led to the U.S. Being an independent nation. There are, of course, many many worthy aspects of that era worthy of our attention and meditation but the net result is that what was created was a new paradigm for human government. Not that there were not foundational sources in the contemporary as well as ancient history available at the time, and certainly not that all the implications of this new paradigm were faithfully executed, but it is nevertheless true that the result was, in many ways, a new thing upon the Earth.
Over time, succeeding generations have by turns refined the idea and corrupted it. I think it can be fairly argued that we are both closer to and further from a perfected version of that concept. We are, of course, imperfect people and our systems will be imperfect as a result. But one of the aspects that we have refined is the one which recognizes the right to equality of all human beings, particularly before the law. We don’t have that yet, to be sure, and the discussion about how that literally applies is ongoing. But the concept itself is now firmly entrenched in the American psyche, and in the “Western culture” of which we are a major part.
My own experience, living as an openly trans woman in a small Bible belt town without direct oppression is testament. As unpleasant as it might be for my critics to hear, those who died for our freedoms died for this freedom too. Because the sacrifices which build the foundation upon which our culture rest were not made selectively. Soldiers and others did not die for “Freedom A” but not “Freedom B” – the heartbeat of freedom is individual autonomy and integrity. People don’t always follow that reality to it’s logical implications, but more and more people do. The implications that extend even to the right of the homosexual, and even the transgender person. I testify, and I think no one would disagree (save those for whom “freedom” means the freedom to impose on the liberty of others) that in this, at least, we are a freer people than we have ever been before.
One need only look across the sea to less free nations where people like me might well be put to death and where half the human race (the female half) is still under the boot of the other half to see our freedoms at work. Sadly, of course, we no longer lead the world in some freedoms. We still fall prey to the temptation to limit the freedom of others “for their own good” in too many cases, but we are nevertheless privileged to enjoy the liberty that we have. Freedom and liberty are always a work-in-progress and sometimes we, as a society, don’t get it right. But we’re making progress.
So yeah, when I and my boys blew stuff up yesterday, I lit at least one firecracker in celebration of living in a country where being who I am doesn’t, anymore, make me a lawbreaker. I hope you all had a good one.
Photo by: Texas Tongs