Hollywood, MD – Independence Day might be the one holiday in our culture that is truly all about celebration. Occasions such as Memorial Day, Labor Day, Veterans Day, Christmas and Easter contain reflective and restrained aspects—due to their origins and in some cases religious significance. Independence Day, on the other hand, is a birthday party. Even birthday celebrants, however, tend to get reflective and concerned as the birthdays accumulate. The United States of America has 241 candles on its cake this year. Before we make our wishes and proceed to the big blowout, we might want to pause to ponder where we are right now.

Some people will tell you Americans have never been more divided. When you consider that for four years during the early 1860s the country was involved in a civil war, that’s really saying a lot. Think about the components and standards for a livable society, however, and you might be surprised that everybody wants the same thing.

While there may be a handful of exceptions, most Americans want prosperity, autonomy, financial stability, safety, good health and an existence that is free of persecution. Where we run into difficulty is determining how to create a realm where all that is possible for everyone. That’s where reflecting on the mindset of our Founding Fathers can perhaps show us the way. In a 2012 essay for the web site “Our Turning Point,” writer Richard Inman noted that with the drafting and issuance of the Declaration of Independence “a challenge was issued that kings did not automatically have supreme authority.” While we have a government—several tiers of it, in fact, national state and local—that government “would be given limited rights by the people.” Inman declared “Americans must stop trading liberty for security.”

The Founding Fathers each wagered his security when they boldly issued that challenge to King George in 1776. Not all of the signers became immortal, as many of the names on the Declaration of Independence are unknown to contemporary Americans. Many of the signers leveraged their tangible assets and lost them. But they did so as free men. Liberty is a gift from God and we must treasure it like a valuable family heirloom. It should not be traded no matter how enticing the concept of security might be.

That liberty begins with the individual and each individual American can make personal choices that will help them pursue and achieve personal happiness. It may not be easy and your destiny might not meet your expectations. Your personal political ideology might experience some drastic alterations in the process. You will most likely lose friends. Your value-system might also undergo revisions. But you will be your own tyrant.

Yes, Americans are divided—as individuals—and if you can grasp the paradox, that is what makes us collectively strong. What will you wish for this Independence Day? With the gift of liberty all things are possible.

Make a wish and have a happy birthday, America!

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Contact Marty Madden at marty.madden@thebaynet.com