Earlier today, I began my 4th of July by reading the Declaration of Independence. This has become an annual ritual for me. I know it sounds cheesy, but I think it is a meaningful exercise. I don’t mean that in a self-righteous way and I don’t want to convey a sense of patriotic zealotry, but instead of listening to what the talking heads say, I go right to the source and read it for myself.
Even if you aren’t a citizen of the US, the Declaration has something in it for you. It was written in a chaotic time and the authors had the courage to stand up before the world for what they believed. Think about it for a second, the Declaration was written at a time before there was a US, so in my opinion, it was really written for all people – for all the world – in general.
The Declaration framed a world where freedom was an inalienable right for everyone. Of course, 1776 was a time when the very freedom framed by the authors was not shared across lines of gender, race, or social status. It is amazing to me that, as far as we have come in the last 250 years, we still have a long way to go before the idealism described in the Declaration is known to everyone. The idealist in me believes it will happen one day, but at least for now, the wisdom conveyed in 1776 still finds practical application today.
I struggled to find an image to share here. Of course, I thought of fireworks and flags, but I wanted something that expressed my freedom in a slightly less obvious manner. In a very real way, any picture I share is an expression of my freedom. So, I opted for something completely different. This a picture of me from 1988: the Delicate Arch. A selfie long before I knew what to call it. I was 29. I was a creative innocent. I set up my precious Nikon FG on a rickety aluminum tripod, then ran around to pose. A buddy pressed the shutter to capture the image on Fuji slide film.
When I first saw Delicate, it was my first time in a National Park. My jaw dropped and all I could say was, “Wow, I need to get out more.” I was free. Still am. So, wherever you live, whatever you celebrate or don’t celebrate on this day, I hope you had the freedom to do as you please.