Happy Independence Day.
While a lot of people will be exhorting you to remember the sacrifices other people made to make this country what it is (usually so you will shut up and stop disagreeing with them for five minutes), I would like to exhort you to remember to be independent.
You are not your religion (or lack of it).
You are not a political party.
You are not a company or a job.
You are not even a family or a relationship. You aren’t your parents – you aren’t not your parents. Or your kids.
You aren’t tallness, you aren’t shortness, you aren’t healthiness, you aren’t illness, you aren’t wealth, you aren’t poverty, you aren’t happiness, you aren’t sadness.
You aren’t a sexual orientation. You aren’t manhood, womanhood, or anything in between.
You aren’t an unhappy childhood. You aren’t a privileged childhood.
You aren’t where you live. Or where you grew up.
You aren’t failure. You aren’t success.
People try to tell other people they are these things, that they should do things based on who they are. “You’re a ____. You should do _____.” I, for one, find myself doing it all time (e.g., “You’re a conservative. CONSERVE.”)
But it’s exactly that kind of thinking that leads to the ends justifying the means – Christians killing abortionists, gay people making fun of “breeders,” out-of-work fathers killing their kids so they don’t grow up hungry (and never grow up at all), environmental activists supporting biofuels that cause farmers to chop down rainforests, Libertarians who sell their liberty to corporations (to keep Liberty away from the Government), people who let their families fall apart because they can’t walk away from the jobs they took to support their families.
So take a step back from your ideals and ambitions today to smile more often, listen more, laugh at jokes, and do what you love (and not what you should do). Don’t put your nose to the grindstone. Don’t make sacrifices. Don’t be noble.
Taking it all with a grain of salt is also part of what makes this country great.