The Cost of Freedom. In the month of July the US celebrates their independence. On July 4th, 1776 the Declaration of Independence was signed by 56 of our country’s leaders. This was considered the birth of our country when we gained control from the British Empire.
The American Revolution was a political action where thirteen colonies joined together to become the United States of America. How do we gain power over a country that wasn’t ours in the first place? In fact, it doesn’t belong to any of us. According to Native culture, Mother Earth belongs to all living and breathing creatures, great and small. We are no more than her caretaker. This land is on loan to us and it is our responsibility to nurture and hold this land in high regard for our children and grandchildren. So what land were we fighting for? What rights were we fighting for?
The dismantling of the Native American culture started in 1492 off the Florida coast when Christopher Columbus ‘discovered’ this country. According to history, soon after Columbus embarked on his discovery he had the perception that the Native Americans “ran around as naked as their mothers bore them; and also the women.”
By the time of the American Revolution the Native Americans were already imprisoned, stripped of the culture they knew and herded into reservations like cattle. The land they tended was carelessly raped of its beauty and destroyed. Scores were killed by the hand of so-called revolutionaries using their religious symbols and beliefs as the cause to selfishly destroy a culture that lived by the rules of nature.
The Native American didn’t resemble the white man; their skin darker, their features broader and hair long and braided. They didn’t speak the same language, but a language of their people carried down from generation to generation. Therefore, the white man thought them less than human, savages. Those “revolutionaries” chose not to take the time to understand the culture they were encroaching upon. Instead, they spilled the blood of the Native Americans, the very people who took care of the land the white man now walked on and claimed as their own.
We talk about the abolishment of slavery and the horrific acts of injustice. We talk about how appalling that is and those involved must be brought to justice for their cruelty. Yet, few talk about what we, as Americans, have done to the Native American people and their culture. Our forefathers built this land on the principle that all men should be free, while at the same time owning slaves to work the fields and tend to their children. Buying and trading slaves was considered a sport and a huge profit making business throughout history. Buying and selling a human being still exists in some cultures today.
In our schools we are taught about WWII. We were taught about the atrocities that took place between 1939 and 1945. Still today we talk about gas chambers, human guinea pigs and the mutilation of tens of thousands of human beings. With all of the historical documentation available some still deny it ever happened.
The Irish, Germans, Italians and scores of other nationalities before us came to the United States to find a new way of life. Many of our ancestors boarded ships by the thousands across the Atlantic by way of a small island in the New York harbor, Ellis Island. Ever heard of it?
Welcoming these weary travelers was Lady Liberty, The Statue of Liberty. Embossed in bronze are the following words, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. The wretched refuse of your teaming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me. I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” It appears that Lady Liberty is the only symbol welcoming these huddled masses into our country. Children are being sent to the US to find a better life. They climb fences, crowd themselves into vans and trucks just to come here in hopes of finding a better life for themselves and their families left behind.
Without speaking a word of English and nothing more than the clothes on their back and no destination, they come here to be free. How many of you would go to these extremes to find a better life or freedom for yourself or your family? One complaint I hear most often is that they are taking our jobs. Think about it, if they do make it here they work menial jobs, harvesting the fruits and vegetables you serve on your dinner tables and in your restaurants, scrubbing toilets in the office buildings you work in. The same thing our ancestors did when they came to the US. Jobs many of those born in the US consider beneath them. Where did your parents or grandparents come from?
How many of us had grandparents that spoke with a thick accent? Would any of you look at your grandparents and great grandparents and tell them “I wish you’d learn to speak English.” Why did they come to America? What jobs did they do when they got here? How many of your ancestors came here illegally? Sneaking across the Canadian borders or smuggled onto ships leaving family and everything they knew behind? Before you criticize anyone for coming to America with the wants and dreams that you yourself have, ask yourself the following: “How did you get here? What legacy did your ancestors leave you when they came here? What did they sacrifice so you could have a better life today?”
Yes, it takes hard work and a willingness to want more. Many people complain that immigrants are coming here seeking medical care for themselves and their families. Be grateful that we have the medical care we have here in the states. Many countries have none at all. Be grateful that we, as Americans, have the opportunities available to us and the freedom to seek out those opportunities.
We set out to abolish slavery. In 1780 Pennsylvania passed its Act for the Gradual Abolition of Slavery. But, as of 1850, the federal census recorded that there were still hundreds of young blacks enslaved until their 28th birthdays. January 1, 1863 President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation freeing slaves in the Confederate states. Illegal segregation would last until the mid-1960s. Segregation is still going on today all around the world. Have we truly ended slavery and racial segregation? Slavery comes in many forms. Some are held captive by their own hand or by the hand of others. Whether it is by their own success, monetary wealth or by their own thoughts and actions, it is slavery just the same.
Some are held captive by their pride and unable to see or admit to their wrong doing. Many are held captive in their own bodies and mind due to mental or physical illness and disabilities. Instead of taking the time to understand these disabilities we turn our heads, store them in brick buildings and mention them in passing. How often do you hear the expressions “I wish they would just see the light?” or “Why don’t they just leave, remove themselves from the situation?”
You can be a slave to your own environment if you don’t know any other way of life. If you aren’t educated or mentored and shown a better life, you don’t know it exists. If you don’t have the drive or ambition to improve your circumstances you will never escape your surroundings. You can be held captive due to circumstances out of your control or beyond your understanding. Freedom of will is a wonderful thing if your mind and willpower is free enough to see beyond the borders of your own existence or beyond the walls of your environment. In order to accomplish this you have to have an unshaken faith and strength to break free.
Conditions are improving to some degree. But at this rate we, as human beings, can’t afford to live by the rule ‘every man for himself’. We, as living breathing beings, must learn that we can’t solve the world’s problems by thinking and living selfishly. We, as human beings from every culture, must learn to respect and live with our own self destruction in mind. Respect one another’s beliefs and the culture they come from. There is beauty in every culture from every part of the word. Are they so different from us, are they less than human?
Those that claim they are fighting for a righteous cause or their religious rights are the very people who are ignoring the basic laws of human life. Life is a right and not the right of others who chose to end it by an act of violence. I am certainly not diminishing the lives of our service men and woman serving in our military. They are actually living their lives unselfishly and protecting us and our freedom. For that I give them my honor and highest regard. I wish each and every one of them peace and a safe return so they can leave a legacy of honor for the next generation.
Ask yourself this question, “Are we actually doing better than our forefathers or are the necessary changes caught up in personal agendas, politics, excuses, red tape or ignorance?” Life wasn’t given to you selfishly. Life was given to you to learn from others and to teach this generation and the generations coming after us. Teach them well and share your wisdom and knowledge. Above all, teach them respect. Freedom is difficult and costly in many ways. Many have fought and lost their lives for that right. Do not dishonor them by being held captive in your own beliefs or ignorance. Honor those who have fallen by learning from the past and not repeating the injustices that continue today. It should not be found at the risk of losing your morals, beliefs or selling your soul.
Freedom is yours if you choose.
I wish you all peace of mind, body and spirit to carry on with your journey.