Someone recently asked us how they celebrate the Fourth of July in Cambodia, where we are spending this American Independence Day. It just goes to show that some people don’t even know what they’re celebrating anymore.
Here’s a funny ‘man on the street’ segment from last year proving this point:
So this Independence Day, we feel it’s important to define what freedom means to us. But, first, I’ll tell you what freedom isn’t. It isn’t celebrating once-a-year with beer and fireworks about America declaring independence from England 236 years ago. That has very little to do with defining individual freedom in 2012.
The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution are vital to be remembered, and just their existence sets America apart from most nations in how we define rights and freedom. But, just as have most Americans have forgotten (or never learned) the Constitution, so have the lawmakers.
With the overwhelming onslaught of rules and regulations resulting in the largest prison population in the world, America should hardly be considered the “land of the free”.
“We are fast approaching the stage of ultimate inversion: the stage where government is free to do as it pleases, while the citizens may act only by permission.” – Ayn Rand
By the way, do you have a permit for those fireworks? Nobody would even understand this question in Latin America or Asia. They would laugh if an official started demanding such things.
I don’t want to come off as anti-America because, as Americans, we are much more fortunate than many people’s of the world — not just in physical wealth, but also in our beliefs. By beliefs, I mean the belief that we are able to achieve anything we put our mind to. There is immense value to that concept which most of the rest of the world simply doesn’t possess.
Additionally, as Americans, we are able to freely travel to most countries of the world because our passport is granted easy access. So, it’s not all bad to be American compared to most other nationalities.
Yet, the freedom to be unobstructed to “live your life as you choose” is unquestionably deteriorating in America. Whether it’s government laws and regulations or economics, the majority of people seem to feel trapped within confines of their 9-5 lifestyle.
It’s a lifestyle of dependence; dependence on your company for a job and health insurance, dependence on government assistance or social security, dependence on debt and credit cards, water companies, electric companies, factory food, etc. The list goes on and on.
As Thomas Jefferson wrote, “Dependence begets subservience and venality, suffocates the germ of virtue, and prepares fit tools for the designs of ambition.”
Real freedom is primarily about choices. And although choices may appear to be systematically eliminated, we always have choices. Remember, Americans believe we can do anything. Where there’s a will, there’s still a way. Thankfully.
We are free because we choose to be. Personally, we travel the world unobstructed, work for ourselves, homeschool the kids, and generally do what we want. Our goal is to make every day feel like Saturday. Living our lifestyle in America would be difficult-to-impossible in many ways, from the high cost of living, to restrictions on homeschoolers. In other words, there are obstructions to our freedom there.
So we chose a life of adventure, traveling the world as digital nomads. We’re lucky enough to make our money independently so we have the freedom to travel. But, significantly, we “decided” to choose freedom over conformity.
“Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth.” — John F. Kennedy
We are not unique. Everyone can choose to be less dependent on the system and become more self-reliant. With each step you make towards the goal of being self-sufficient, the more free you become. The less dependent you are, the more choices you have. It’s that simple.
Don’t expect governments to give you more freedom. As we’ve witnessed in recent years, they can only remove freedom. Only you can define what freedom means to you and then pursue that path in your personal life and through broader activism.
So this American Independence Day 2012, take the time to reflect on what individual freedom means to you and go after it. It’s yours for the taking.
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