Are We Independent?

“People have only as much liberty as they have the intelligence to want and the courage to take.”  ― Emma Goldman


What started as a series of thoughts centered on my complete gratitude towards this nation, the United States, turned into layer after layer of examining the existence of true independence.  What is it?  Do we truly or fully understand it?  Is it elusive, or more tangible than we actually realize?  Or is it much further away than we even know?

Our nation is a contradiction of our history of rich greatness to our abominations we’ve dealt to those who are our own.  We have freedoms and privileges most countries do not.  We have great opportunity for those who wish to venture into the world of business ownership.  We can call our leaders names, slander, and shame them, and live to tell the tale.

As I watched the bombs bursting in air this 4th of July weekend, I looked around at the people near bye I wondered who was thinking about work on Monday.  Or church on Sunday.  Or how many felt truly grateful of the country we live in?  Were they with family?  Did they wish to be with family?

The definition of independence is derived, obviously, from the word independent. Which means; Self-sufficient, self-reliant, set aside from the dependence of another, not relying on, not bound or obligated.

Wait..what was that last phrase?  Not bound…or obligated.  We talk about the “freedom” of our nation.  Our brave young men and women who’ve fought for the country, or in compliance of our country.  Regardless of which, they are without a doubt, brave and worthy of our gratitude.  As Jack Nicholson once said, “We need them on the wall.”

But we talk about our “rights” which often we get confused with our privileges, and trust me it is easy to do.  We get in arms about one political party or another.  We continually keep missing the point as a nation on various topics, but when it comes to Independence Day, we (most of us.) unite.  Because we love this nation.

However, do we understand what was really laid out for us?  When our forefathers fought, and bickered, and hammered out the constitution, and America was birthed like a 14 lb. baby, they had in mind the immense opportunity that this country could be and sometimes is.  And the opportunity for you and I.  The opportunity to be independent.

It was all a foreshadowing.  A foreshadowing of what we are supposed to be as a people.  Both together and individually.  To have the freedom to pursue my dreams, and visions, without an entity telling me what I can and cannot do, or can and cannot think.

Not bound to, or obligated.  Looking back I had bound myself, freely, to a great many things.  Drugs, debt, pride, negativity, childish behavior, and insecurity.  And how many times did someone try hard to fit me into their box to bind me up into their idea of what I should or should not be?  I was never created to fit well in those things and it made life a pinch more difficult because of it.  Until, at least, I found out it is a sign I have to pursue true freedom.  From within.

In the finance industry I was shocked to learn that money was the number one cause of divorce in the nation, the average household living paycheck to paycheck was staggering and don’t get me started on the credit card statistics.  Bound to money…just like I was.

The funny thing about being bound or dependent on something is that you don’t always see it right away.  Or after freeing yourself you then recognize it right away.  Either in others or in yourself.  You try to raise awareness to those around you lest they be ensnared too.

“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”— Nelson Mandela.

(c) Alex Ross' Superman

(c) Alex Ross’ Superman


But we must ask ourselves, if we are truly celebrating Independence Day, then what are we truly independent from?  I’m not talking about political b.s. here.  I’m not talking about religious freedoms and privileges or the right or left wing.  I’m talking about YOU.  As a PERSON.  What are YOU and I independent from, really?  Or what are we bound to instead?

We have to take that inevitable long gaze into the proverbial mirror and look past the façade we often put up to pander to whatever crowd we’re entertaining.  Or pander to whatever tribe we get our approval reward from.

The number one cause of divorce in America is not infidelity, not abuse, nor is it alcoholism, it is money.  Or money related issues, like I had said earlier.  The credit card debt amongst average Americans is staggering and the number of families living paycheck to paycheck matches those reports.

But that is just money.  That is just one band of the spectrum.  How many men have I talked to, including myself, put up with miserable jobs, bosses, toxic situations, bound tight to something we cannot stand?  How many of us have, or continue to, feel trapped?

Why are we not where we want to be?  Why can we not be truly free?  What holds us back?  People’s opinions?  People’s ideas of who we should be, that maybe doesn’t fit who we were meant to be on the inside.  Have we given up somehow?

The majority of people I’ve spoken to have an ember inside of them that wants so badly to be a wildfire.  And as Benjamin Franklin once said, “Most men die at age 25…we just don’t bury them until they are 75.”  And I believe it is because at some point we begin to believe the critics and give it.  Giving up our independence.  And in some cases our identity.

As I look back and enjoy Independence Day, I not just grateful that our soldiers over the years helped keep our country safe, but I am also grateful to the victories in my own personal life.  The long fights for independence in various parts of my life.  Each a war of their own.  Each with their own set of sacrifices and victories.  And though there will be more to come, the gratitude is there.

Are we grateful for what we have, and are we truly independent?  Are we who we are meant to be fully?  Because I believe that is the foreshadowing our forefathers hinted at.  If we are not truly independent, then we must look into that mirror in our own lives and look at the choices we’ve made.  Then begin to make choices, step by bloody step, into the battlefield, and regain or sense of independence and pull ourselves away from the chains that weigh us down.  Be who we are meant to be.  Fully.


So that the next time fireworks break open the sky we look back at the battles we fought ourselves.  The gratitude for the ground gained, the bonds broken, the chains snapped, and the foundation set, will spark a pyre for the old man that believed the critics.  Because he had to be put to rest.  The old man who relied too much on everyone and everything else, and never took the responsibility to make those steps for the glory of independence;  that man, he will have been burned away for the new man, who takes action over his life.  Independently.

 “Freedom (n.): To ask nothing. To expect nothing. To depend on nothing.”  ― Ayn Rand, The Fountainhead

M.W. Larsen




One Response to Are We Independent?

  1. Ann Abbitz says:

    I have actually wrestled with this very question myself, and I wrote a paper on the topic in college. True independence – in it’s word-for-word definition – is nearly impossible to achieve in the world that we live in. There will always be a need that we cannot fulfill strictly by ourselves – as a nation – and for that reason we cannot say we are 100% independent.
    With that being said, on every July 4th I can’t help but feel any overwhelming sense of Patriotism because I happen to live in a country that has pretty much come as close as possible to independence & true freedom.

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