Sunday, July 03, 2005

Curious about Independence - What Does It Mean to You?

“In the progress of personality, first comes a declaration of independence, then a recognition of interdependence.” - Henry Van Dyke

In honor of the Fourth of July, I decided to write about “Independence.” Several of the few e-newsletters that I allow myself to read - remember I cut way back to create more time - have talked about freedom, independence and beliefs this week.

It has truly made me think about how I value my freedom and my independence. Yes, we do depend upon others as George Bernard Shaw wrote, “Independence? That's middle class blasphemy. We are all dependent on one another, every soul of us on earth.” And yet, in other words by Brigham Young, “True independence and freedom can only exist in doing what's right.”

I love the fact that I live the life of being free and independent enough to make my own choices, to do what I love doing and live a life where every day is an adventure. Is this what independence means to you? Or, I should be more specific, what does independence mean to you?

As you know by now, I love searching for meaningful quotations that relate to the subject at hand, and also make us think. Here are a few that I hope will clarify your thoughts:

  • French actress Virginie LeDoyen expresses it so well, “I think a spirit of independence is really important, and not just for a woman. I'm always interested in characters - not just as an actress, but as a spectator, too - who have their own way of being, of living, even if it's not the best way, or even if it's unstable or sometimes mean.”
  • Henry Ford warns us, “If money is your hope for independence you will never have it. The only real security that a man will have in this world is a reserve of knowledge, experience, and ability.”
  • Abraham Lincoln made the strong statement, “You cannot build character and courage by taking away a man's initiative and independence.”
  • And Edward Vernon Rickenbacker agreed whole heartedly, “The four cornerstones of character on which the structure of this nation was built are: Initiative, Imagination, Individuality and Independence.”
  • In the words of the sage, Ralph Waldo Emerson, “It is easy in the world to live after the world's opinion, it is easy in solitude to live after your own; but the great man is he who, in the midst of the world, keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.”

I am separating out Herbert Hoover’s take on our country, because isn’t this what we are celebrating tomorrow? “My country owes me nothing. It gave me, as it gives every boy and girl, a chance. It gave me schooling, independence of action, opportunity for service and honor. In no other land could a boy from a country village, without inheritance or influential friends, look forward with unbounded hope.”

He was right, too! We have the freedom here to become whoever we aspire and work to be.

In several quotes that I haven’t included, the writers feared that we are punished for independent thought and actions. I have found that when we think independently, we may receive criticism. But, just remember, even if lots of people don’t agree with us, we still have the freedom to express our views.

As one of the members of a discussion group to which I belong said, “Dissent is good. It makes us think and clarify.”

Have a wonderfully independent day tomorrow - no matter where you live!