On this July 4th, let’s raise a glass in celebration for the wildly simple, yet, profoundly complex concept that is freedom.
My gratitude for freedom doesn’t come from dire circumstances or traumatic personal experience, but from the awareness I try to cultivate based on other people’s lack of. I feel a tremendous responsibility to continually stay informed and engaged and to check my privilege as someone who could easily and ignorantly turn a blind eye.
As we celebrate our independence, I encourage you to take a moment and consider those who live in nations or under circumstances where freedom is less abound.
Today, I think about:
- The 5.7 million registered refugees and 6.6 million internally displaced people who have been barbarously uprooted by the violence and destruction of the ongoing Syrian Civil War.
- The genocidal attack on the Yazidi community nearly five years ago in Sinjar, where the Islamic State enslaved and killed thousands of innocent men, women, and children, subjecting captives to the most unimaginable horrors.
- The devastating hindrance and impact that educational inequality has on women and girls globally and that despite progress, females still continue to face multiple barriers, based on gender and its intersections with other factors, in the access and right to quality education.
- The children being held in despicable conditions at the United States-Mexico border, a completely preventable an unnecessary humanitarian crisis. Also (and despite your personal political beliefs), consider the sacrifice and trepidation these families must have encountered in their pursuit of safety and asylum.
- I also think about the vast inequality and austere issues pressing the United States. Reading the statistics on gun violence and hate crimes has left me aghast. My mind wanders to racial inequality, wage inequality, and homelessness. I think about the rising cost of healthcare and the fact that 11.8% of households were food insecure last year. I think about those who endure microaggressions and racial oppression daily (of course outside the U.S. as well), and how it must feel to live in a country where freedom is touted, but one’s opportunity can be hindered simply because of race.
Today, let’s momentarily consider our life without independence, because this holiday can be more than just fireworks and a day off. Today can be an opportunity to consider the antithesis of our freedom. We must acknowledge that we, as humans, are exactly the same as those living in countries where genocide and sexual violence are common corruptions. We must also acknowledge that people in such dire circumstances love their families the same way we do, and dream of a better future just like us, and desire justice and equality, yet, will likely never possess the right or resources to pursue it.
If you’re privileged enough to be in a position today where you don’t have to think about your freedom, instead, channel that energy into how you can help those impacted by injustice, inequality and terror everyday – both here at home and on a global scale. We are one.