Independence is Bullshit: A Love Story

by P. Braithwaite


Last 4th of July, my brother, sister-in-law, and I had an impromptu beach day. We ended our night at an outdoor seafood restaurant watching fireworks and singing the national anthem.

“Play Ball!!!” The three of us shouted in unison. Apparently, we learned patriotism from watching sports. We laughed and raised our glasses as the lights from the fireworks turned our drinks green and blue.

All in all…a good day to be American.

See, from where I sit, independence is sort of a ridiculous notion. It’s a myth. A joke. Even the way we celebrate Independence Day hints at that: we travel, we gather, we commune, we congregate.

We’re not all that into independence.

We need each other. We like each other. How we define ourselves is wrapped up in every single thing that makes up our world (and even the things that don’t). We are dependent. We are connected. We are one. We’re dependent on the cows slaughtered in service of our BBQs, we’re dependent on the ground on which we stand and sit and build. We are connected, all of us breathing the same air, looking toward one sky, but watching different fireworks.

Separation is a grand illusion. None of us got here on our own. None of us exist in a vacuum. We are all creating each other’s context. We are all interdependent.

It is very easy, in this increasingly complex world, to believe that we’re out here on our own. In this world, where we can interact without speaking and receive without giving, it is seductive to think we are independent. It is easy, with our eyes fixed on wealth and our hearts fearing lack, to believe that one’s bootstraps are one’s own responsibility, but that’s not true. I am my brother’s keeper. I am my sister’s stewardess. We are a human race, a tribe, a family. My victories influence your victories. Your victories influence mine. Whether we have ever met or we simply choose not to speak, the movements you make send ripples through the entire world.

If I lived from this space more, I’d probably be a better person.

See, we can walk around pretending to be separate. We can yell at each other and start wars. We can fear each other, push each other, and deny each other rights, but we are all inhabitants of God’s belly –expanding and contracting with every breath He takes.

None of us will make it out of here alive. Every living creature is facing the same damn fate. That alone, should be enough to bond us all.

So today, light your sticks of dynamite. Watch bombs busting in air. Eat pork ribs and drink Budweiser. Toast me if you remember; I’ll eat a crab cake, take a shot, and think of you. Celebrate the day, celebrate your freedom, but know without a doubt, you are not independent.

Nor are you ever truly alone.

Keep becoming and unfolding and evolving. Because we need you. We’re all depending on you, and we’re all a little happier when you are at your best.

Stay classy, USA…

How are you celebrating your freedom?