Recently, I had a potentially bad interaction with a powerful person. I didn’t lose my head in the encounter, and I didn’t lose my head as the result of the encounter. What’s even better, both of us were in the encounter because we wanted to be: neither of us were trapped by vassalage or nobility. Both of us were free to walk away at any time. So ultimately I did the right thing in that situation, and ultimately they made the right decision required by the situation and we both walked away winners.
That’s the kind of thing that can happen when people are free.
So yesterday, while our cats were hiding under the bed because of the rumblings echoing through the valley, my wife and I paused our preparation of our holiday dinner and went outside to watch the fireworks sparking at the end of the street … beyond the end of the street … and in all directions around us that we could hear or see.
Fourth of July is an American celebration, and yes, technically it’s a celebration of our independence from England, but the idea behind the celebration is far more important than that history. We’re celebrating freedom: the right for each individual to do what they want with their lives as long as they’re not directly harming anyone else.
And that’s an idea which belongs to everyone in the world.
It may be a long time before freedom is implemented for everyone in practice, equitably, with sensitivity to each culture’s unique sensibilities. It’s tricky, because many people in this world think that they have the right to control others, or think that they’re being actually harmed when someone else’s choices simply make them feel uncomfortable. We have a lot of work to do.
But we knew all that. The Fourth isn’t a time to mourn for victories not yet achieved; it’s a time to celebrate, and cherish, the victories we have in hand. So hugged, and smiled, and watched the fireworks, and then went inside and called our neighbors to make sure they’d left their garage door open on purpose (they had; they were also watching the fireworks, just up the street). Then we had tabbouleh and vegan crab cakes and watched a Doctor Who story about haunted houses, time travel and love.
It was a good day to be free.