I start with the fact that "independence" is more a state of mind and condition of being rather than a right or a blessing. While many this day thank their country or their God for freedom or independence, it is more a testament to the courage and sacrifice of individuals over long periods of time that leads to a life of independence. We are not just talking here about sacrifice or courage in warfare or on a battlefield...sacrificing ones life for your country or God. On a higher level it is about the sacrifice and courage it takes to stand for yourself and be comfortable "in your own skin". It is more about learning ways of life where you owe no man and no man owes you. It is more about solid values and responsible living where one strives to make the most of themselves and therefore leading by example in how to live...no matter the external circumstances...whether rich or poor, in good health or bad. It is all about the integrity, attitude and willpower of the individual mind that determines whether one is truly free and independent...or not. It is about living free from the hind tit of government systems and handouts.
Often times, independence means standing ALONE when no one else agrees or supports your ideas, goals or way to go about them. Taking full responsibility for every decision you make, every person you associate with, every job or business you enter...and doing your best to make those relationships and commitments successful is what creates independence. Independence can be a very lonely and costly mode of living.
Independence often means standing up for truth and righteousness even when it means standing beside the "little guy". It takes no courage to gang up with the majority, the popular, the accepted in our societies. It is much more difficult to stand for minorities or self rights in the face of ugly demands from the masses of men. Most people cave every day to what is popular, acceptable or pressured by the mass consciousness of societies. Very few individuals stand out in a crowd...and I don't mean physically. I mean by actions, statements and attitude. Most of us strive to look alike, think alike and just "get along". Very few are willing to state their independent minds or take the "road less traveled". In most cases, we humans live our whole lives trying to please others and our institutions. Most hardly ever think about how they can make a difference in the world. In most cases, it takes a bit of personal suffering before true independence can be achieved.
So...what does it take to truly be free? While there are surely times it means taking up arms and protecting freedom and independence from tyranny in the physical world...usually the process starts well before that point. A truly free and independent individual must first agree to live according to certain principles. For me, a few core statements representing these principles are:
"I swear by my life and my love of it that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine."
My rights end where another's begins...
You cannot be truly independent when you OWE people or institutions money or your allegiance. Money and allegiance are to be given voluntarily, not at the end of a gun barrel.
"True individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made."
"All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient." It is my responsibility to define expedience for myself and not judge others for their definitions.
"There is only one basic human right, the right to do as you damn well please. And with it comes the only basic human duty, the duty to take the consequences."
"Freedom is what you do with what's been done to you."
Finally...my greatest perplexity regarding independence and freedom is how people will sacrifice tremendously for their religions or governments, yet sacrifice very little to reach their own potentials as individuals or take pride in their personal accomplishments.
May you all live free, independent...and prosper.