I've been contemplating this post for awhile. Last week I expressed my distaste for the 4th of July. I have wanted to move on, but I have some thoughts that I just can't get out of my mind. I can't get any other ideas, so I'm going to share more thoughts on independence day.
First off, I want to make it known that I love the country that I live in and the freedoms we have. I am posting on the lack of independence not to bash the US, but to call attention to our hypocrisies in an attempt to encourage people to participate in increasing the liberties in our country and others.
When I think of independence I think of freedom, and the opportunity to act freely without oversight of others. The United States have NEVER been independent. Sure, we celebrate our independence from the King of England on the 4th of July. That is the day that American leaders declared that they wanted autonomy from British rule. True, our government is independent, but the people never have been.
At the time we declared independence from Great Britain, the economy of the Southern states were supported significantly by slavery. That is the antithesis of freedom. Sure the whites where independent from the rule of others, but were they really "free" if they depended on slavery to support their financial success? I would consider our early American ancestors enslaved to cheap labor at the expense of other humans. They weren't free, they depended on the slavery of others and were thus themselves enslaved.
Likewise, we are today enslaved by cheap goods that come to us at the expense of others' liberties. I think of the fourth of July when we are supposed to be celebrating our independence and freedom. We light of Chinese made fireworks. I actually stopped by a fireworks stand and asked if they had anything made in the US. They didn't know and had no idea why I would ask something so silly. They have cheap fireworks, what more could I want? I want to be free from the oppression of Chinese workers that made those fireworks so inexpensive.
Let's continue with the 4th of July, it's not all about fireworks, we also have picnics and bar-b-ques. Let's take a look at a fresh ear of corn that we bought at the store. It came from the US, surely it demonstrates our independence. Not exactly. The only reason that we can afford US produced corn is because it is heavily subsidized by the US government. So the corn seems inexpensive at the store because you pay for it on April 15th of every year. You remember the taxes Uncle Sam took from your paycheck, part of that money went to make corn affordable. What, you don't eat corn? If you pay taxes in the US, you still pay for it... That doesn't sound like independence to me. Additionally, the US subsidies of corn and other crops pushes down the cost on the world market, making it nearly impossible for other countries to sell their goods at a price competitive with the subsidized US prices. This keeps the poor countries impoverished and dependent on the mighty US dollar.
We also eat beef and chicken on the Fourth of July. They're generally fed corn that was subsidized to make it less expensive.
The "freedoms" and affluence of American society that much of the world looks up to is dependent on the oppression of countries around the world. Every time you purchase "inexpensive" goods at Wal-Mart or other large chain stores that import the vast majority of their goods from overseas, you are paying to oppress and enslave a fellow human being. The goods that clutter our houses are signs of our dependence on cheap foreign goods... our dependence on slavery (now we've shipped that overseas, along with many American jobs, but it's still slavery). From it's inception, our country and it's "prosperity" has been dependent on slavery. We are a sovereign country that is free from outside rule, but we are enslaved to the oppression of our fellow human beings.
There are certainly exceptions to this in the history of the United States. The Amish and the Puritans established communities that were independent and able to subside on their own goods. The Mormons, when they first migrated to Utah were independent. The Amish are the only group that I can think of that are still independent (if this is only a case of my ignorance, please enlighten me to other groups). But the average American makes fun of the Amish and their impoverished lifestyle exemplified by their horse and buggy. Americans are above that... No, I think that Americans are far below that.
Emily brought up the point of family and the Fourth of July. Independence day is a wonderful time to get together with family and spend time together. I love any time that I have to spend with my family and the 4th of July is no exception (except they were away this year). My disappointment is that my reliance on cheap goods makes it so children in other countries have to go work in sweat shops, breaking apart families and enslaving children. Forcing young and old alike to work long hours with little pay to support my need for cheap goods. I love my family, but it is time that we take a look outside of the United States... It's a big world out there that we are influencing.
How about that for a rant. I got it off my chest, now hopefully I will return to simple living and cycling as subjects rather than posts like this.