HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY!
I was out for a jog in the beautiful Netherlands this morning when a thought came to mind; we are more similar to one another deep inside than we are different.
On my first New Years in Amsterdam in 2015 (captured in the photo above) I was greeted by a fireworks celebration that far exceeded anything I had ever witnessed before.
Of course, wherever there is unbridled revelry, there are consequences to be had for such behaviors. You might think this wisdom was forged from years of hard work and parenting, but it was my 4 years of one mistake after another in college where I learned it the most. I got another glimpse of it on January 2, 2015 when Dutch News Outlets questioned the millions of euros spent on fireworks that literally went up in smoke. We will relive it again on July 5, 2017 when critics ask the same question of American displays.
There is something about our celebrations and the controversies they stir that captures the most beautiful thing about our freedom and independence. We are free to celebrate–within reasonable limits–as we see fit. We are also free to question the way we celebrate.
I think Mason Dave captured it best. “There ain’t no good guy, there ain’t no bad guy. There’s only you and me and we just disagree.”
I say, let freedom ring!
It reminds me of an encounter I had when I deployed to Iraq. My aviation unit was in Kuwait for 6 weeks prior to going into Iraq. One afternoon, three members of my unit and I went on a morale run to the port city of Doha. On our drive back to the base, we were greeted by a man in the car next to us who enthusiastically waved at us. He showed a clear sense of appreciation for us and the job we were being asked to do. I just wasn’t prepared for what came next.
There, standing on the lap of the man driving his car, was a boy no more than 2 years old waving at us too.
“That man would be arrested in America,” someone blurted.
“Who’s really free,” I thought.
I’ve had a long time to digest that incident in Kuwait. I have since come to see, and even appreciate, the freedoms we sacrifice for the sake of our children’s well-being, protection, and safety. Still, I wish my kids could have had a mere taste of the joy we experienced when we, as little kids, sat in the front seat of my Uncle Ed’s Plymouth Barracuda without wearing seat belts. We were even allowed to steer the car on a straight stretch of the road. That’s back in the good old days when freedom truly rang!