This past Friday was “The Fourth of July”. Independence Day in The United States of America celebrates the signing of “The Declaration of Independence” from the United Kingdom. (The actual legal separation of the “Thirteen Original Colonies from Great Britain” occurred on July 2, 1776 when Congress voted to approve the resolution, but the wording was approved on July 4, 1776)
On Saturday evening, Larry and I went to watch a fireworks display in a little town near our home. This is the third year we’ve been there and this show rivals anything I’ve ever seen. There’s a “sing-a-long” with music representing all branches of our Armed Forces and then fireworks set off to music; much of it patriotic. As usual, I’m reduced to tears when these songs pay tribute to the men and women who protect us, so that we GET to live in freedom.
Sadly, in spite of our great nation’s independence, there are many (here and all over our world) who yearn for freedom. Most of us can’t truly understand how so many others, on our planet, live.
In 1994, there was a song written by Gretchen Peters and sung by Martina McBride called “Independence Day”. I remember how emotional I felt when the song came out. The words of the chorus are:
Let freedom ring, let the white dove sing
Let the whole world know that today is a day of reckoning
Let the weak be strong, let the right be wrong
Roll the stone away, let the guilty pay it’s Independence Day
Peters was telling a story about domestic abuse through the eyes of a daughter. In the song, a woman is being physically and verbally abused by her husband. The distressed young daughter runs out of the house and goes to a 4th of July parade. She returns home to find the house burning to the ground, the father dead and the mother going to jail. The distraught little girl is taken away to the county children’s home to live. The mother is finally “free” from the abusive husband; it’s her Independence Day.
Sadly, abusive scenarios play out all the time. Slavery and abuse has NOT been banished. Of course, the 13th Amendment to The U.S. Constitution outlawed slavery in our country, and Mauritania, Africa became the last country in the world to abolish slavery in 1981 (it still wasn’t considered a crime, however, until 2007, only SEVEN years ago). In spite of those momentous rulings, the practice of forcing other human beings to do something against their will still exists.
Estimates are that over 20 MILLION people are enslaved throughout the world. According to endslaverynow.org the following types of slavery exist:
Forced Labor– where human beings are forced to work under the threat of violence and for no pay. These slaves are treated as property.
Domestic Servitude– when employees working in private homes are forced or coerced into serving and/or fraudulently convinced that they have no option to leave.
Bonded Labor- happens when people give themselves into slavery against a loan or when they inherit a “debt” from a relative
Child Labor– which is any enslavement, whether forced labor, domestic servitude, bonded labor or sex trafficking, of a child. In 2012 the International Labour Organization released a report stating that 168 million children around the world are engaged in child labor.
Sex Trafficking– when women, men and children are forced into the commercial sex industry and held against their will by manipulation and/or force. In the United States alone, an estimated 100,000 American children are trafficked for sexual exploitation every year. These children may have been abducted; others are at-risk youth, orphans or runaways lured by traffickers who promise them security and a place to stay.
Obviously, all of these are horrific. Obviously, also, most of us can’t truly understand or process this. These issues are not pleasant reading material. I know that, but it’s important that we are aware of what’s going on in our world. Never forget to be grateful for the independence we enjoy. There are so many who would trade places with us in a heartbeat.
Many of us have had an “Independence Day.” Many of us desperately need an “Independence Day”. Who do you need independence from? Who do you need to give independence to?
Can you even NAME what YOU want; what TRUE freedom, (TRUE independence) would look like to you? It takes courage to “buck the system”; to stand up for what we believe in; to stick up for ourselves and be heard. It often seems easier to take the back seat and let someone else steer our lives, but we have such an amazing gift in our freedom.
In our homes are we the person without independence or are we the one holding others down or back? For some people life is never lived without the approval of others. Sometimes in order to be “accepted” we feel like we have to acquiesce to what others want. We believe that our independent thinking might not resonate with what others think. Gaining approval trumps being truly independent.
Walking away from one way of life takes courage and conviction. Listen to your inner voice. What is right for you?
In honor of the 13 original colonies, in this great nation where we are “free”, let’s use the time until our next “Fourth of July” to work on these freedoms:
Virginia- Freedom from Violation- whether verbal, physical, or emotional
New Jersey- Freedom from Narrow-mindedness
Massachusetts- Freedom from Maliciousness
New Hampshire- Freedom from Negligence
Pennsylvania- Freedom from Prejudice
New York- Freedom from Negativity
Maryland- Freedom from Mistrust
Connecticut- Freedom from Cold-heartedness
Rhode Island- Freedom from Revenge
Delaware- Freedom from Dependency
North Carolina- Freedom from Nearsightedness
Georgia- Freedom from Greed
May freedom ring for you, and for those you love…everyday.
For more information about some of the issues we are faced with as a world, go to our local organization, Vast (The Valley Agains Sexual Trafficking) thevast.org or End Slavery Now, endslaverynow.org.