Call it Independence Day – the meaning matters

Call it Independence Day – the meaning matters

Fourth of July? No. We should always call it Independence Day to remember what we celebrate and what it means.

America’s founding unleashed the greatest leap forward in human history. From this leap, liberty and prosperity followed – and not just material prosperity, but also prosperity of the human spirit. After all, that is what happiness is all about; not some transitory joy over a good joke or an amusing moment in life.

Independence and thus liberty did not come easily. It took decades for the colonies to move from discontentment to revolution to independence. The seeds of the revolution were planted long, long before 1775 or 1776.

I share this not because we are in the patriotic season. I share it because all of us in Illinois need historical perspective.

I talk to many of you who are frustrated by our state’s challenges. Many of you express envy for the political victories that swept the country a few years ago in seemingly every state but Illinois. I feel those pangs of frustration myself as I have watched policy victories unfold in places like Wisconsin, Michigan, New Jersey (New Jersey!), Indiana, Florida and elsewhere. It is hard to watch the march of liberty elsewhere when it seems we remain bottled up in trench warfare here.

But despair not. The seeds of victory in Illinois are being sown today. They are growing and gaining strength. We cannot always see the progress, but there are clear hints all around us.

It took years for the colonists to change the hearts and then the minds of a sufficient number of colonists to marshal the will to fight. Once the will was summoned, it took years to win. Let us remember that it is the patriots who stay; it is the patriots who fight. It is the patriots whose hearts grow stronger and whose minds work smarter who persuade enough of their neighbors, their co-workers and their family that the fight is worthwhile and winnable.

And finally, Independence Day is a day to be celebrated, not as “July Fourth” but as the anniversary of the day when the Founding Fathers declared to the world and to the crown that the individual is sovereign – not the king or the state. It never goes out of favor to remind the world that we are free, independent, sovereign beings. To do so, let’s bring back the term Independence Day and not treat this day as just another number on a calendar signifying a day off from work.

Please celebrate your independence – your sovereignty – safely.

This essay on Independence Day was originally published on July 4, 2013. We are repeating it this year, for the message is timeless.

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