As Independence Day fast approaches, I keep hearing Let Freedom Ring. I am moved by the patriotism and fervor with which many celebrate this holiday. Some that I know are focused entirely on the food- ribs or chicken or burgers or all the above. Who to invite for the cookout. Food seems to be the center of the holiday celebration. Sounds great, doesn’t it?
Then there are those who are excited for the day off work! I have spoken with some who are not sure what the holiday commemorates but they are ready to relax and “do nothing” as one person told me.
I once had a friend in my life who would become resentful and angry on Independence Day. I would hear what seemed to be endless tirades about oppression and not being able to celebrate because of all the injustice in the world. I was even chastised for celebrating the holiday. Interesting, I say. I would attempt to share about inner prisons and oppression and how it is reflected in the society at large. This line of thought was not welcomed. I remember saying that it is the inner bondage that is most painful and does the most harm, especially for those who are seemingly “free” on the outside while being held captive on the inside by their beliefs. For me, Independence Day is about becoming free of the bondage of human ignorance as I grow and become open.
I ask myself at this time: “Am I freer of inner chains and shackles than I was last year?” If I have in fact, released some of my inner bondage, then my freedom and independence is coming forth. Many of my close friends also think along these lines and many others are still more focused on the external day off and food. I, too, enjoy the good food, friendship and above all the fireworks. For me this holiday symbolizes a richness that come with authentic inner freedom that emanates from my soul.
Fireworks are what really excites me in the celebration. The beauty, majesty and the power all coming together for controlled explosions! I always say “Ooohhhh, Ahhhhh, Ohhhh” with each one as they explode in splendor! Many years I have watched the fireworks from a boat and many years on land, yet every year, I take time to celebrate my human freedom and all that has made it a reality for me. I also take time and make a more conscious decision to continue to release inner shackles and bondages so I can express more goodness and peace and joy in the world. As I awaken to my own inner power and brilliance, there are fireworks in every “ah-ha” moment! So while many around me are focused on the external show, I am enjoying that show while also choosing an inner freedom that cannot be destroyed except by me!
My inner fireworks are made possible by accepting the facts of my existence and then opening the door and releasing anything that holds me captive. This rejoicing reminds me of my unique connection to all living beings past, present and future. This is awe inspiring and almost incomprehensible to my mind but somehow I get it on a gut level. Now, for me this is freedom and this is what being free means. I choose to be free from the inside out.
Albert Einstein said: “Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. Nobody is able to achieve this completely, but the striving for such achievement is in itself a part of the liberation and a foundation for inner security.” Compassion to embrace all living creatures includes me. Do you have compassion for yourself? Many that I know say they have compassion for others then cringe when I inquire about themselves. There is a discrepancy here. We can truly only give what we possess in order to give. Our externally focused culture has taught many of us to look outside of ourselves for the answers to the questions. I have learned that the answers are within. The conversation or external is merely a reminder or reflection of what is happening on the inside.
Today, as I let freedom ring in my celebration of Independence Day, I am committed to ceasing self-punishment for past mistakes. I am learning to stop taking things personally and I am freer every day from guilt and I recognize and honor my innocence. As I learn to unconditionally love myself and I transcend judgment and labels, I am free. In this freedom, I can render unconditional love and care for myself and all living creatures. I am truly free on every level. The fireworks are the prefect expression of the energy that it often takes to make progress with inner freedom. Still, all the effort, trials, and frustrations are worth the results. For today, I enjoy an inner freedom I never knew existed!
Albert Camus said “Freedom is nothing else but a chance to do better.” Herein lies the call to action. Simply celebrating this holiday because it is what we do seems to be what is happening all around me. I am taking the time to determine what specific actions I can take to do better. As I have more disciplined thinking, more effective questions and more compassionate actions then, I am free!
Yes, I celebrate and I firmly believe that celebration is vital for us! I simply will not miss the opportunity to express gratitude and compassion for the journey. Gaining and maintaining independence and freedom is a milestone worthy of celebration and good food. Let’s not stop there.
On this Independence Day, as you enjoy the outer celebration, take time to honor your inner choice for freedom. It is your inner sense of freedom that colors your world. If your inner world is in bondage it doesn’t matter where you are, you are imprisoned. It is time to be free, you deserve it! Happy Inner-Independence Day!