Much of our national story is inspiring, but a lot of it I am ashamed about. On this day of celebration, I want to encourage each individual to think for themselves, instead of crowd sourcing their beliefs and opinions.
Recently, as I walked through the Las Vegas airport on a layover, I was appalled by what I saw. It reminded me of a bunch of lemmings jumping off a cliff because the ones in front of them had done it. People in mass were making bad choices because lots of other people were as well. We are the most highly evolved species on earth. Can’t we do better?
Fortunately, I came home to spend a day at the quarry with my sister, and saw the teen in the photos spending the afternoon making that exceptional sand castle. This reassured me that maybe we were not going to all go to hell in a hand-basket after all. I found his thoughtfully productive pastime remarkably reassuring for our collective future.
We need to slow down. Get off our devices. Shut off our screens. Go outside. Breathe deeply. Meditate and pray. Paint and play. Listen to each other. Be less concerned about appearances and fashion. Exercise compassion. Do our part individually to be sustainable in our actions. Think in terms of what constructive contribution we can make.
How can we love our neighbor better? What have we really done today to take good care of ourselves? Have you taken the time to see the absolute best in your relative, spouse, child, friend, or opponent today? How are you making the world a better place right now?
Independence and liberty are not so much about nations as they are about thought. Are you free to think unique, original thoughts? Who is making you take a lower path of thoughtless, knee-jerk responses?
Each moment is a fresh new opportunity for a new thought or practice. What are you thoughtfully building? What value are you amplifying? Or are you mindlessly anesthetized, just reacting, waiting to be entertained, zoned out, mindlessly scrolling, or steeped in crowd-think?
We like to debate about government and the national state of affairs, but how well are we governing ourselves? Mary Baker Eddy says in her terrific book Science and Heath with Key to the Scriptures, “God has endowed man with inalienable rights, among which are self-government, reason, and conscience. Man is properly self-governed only when he is guided rightly and governed by his Maker, divine Truth and Love.” (page 107)
If each of us were governing ourselves better, I submit that our nation would reflect that. We need to decentralize our concept of independence and liberty. These are inalienable rights. To what extent are we exercising and practicing them? Can we afford to let our individual expression of them atrophy?
As I watched the teen making the sandcastle, my thought cycled back to an America I like less, which was depicted with such overwhelmingly sad depravity as I saw in the Las Vegas airport. I reminded myself that all those people are God’s children as much as I am. I need to not judge them and despair for them, but fully trust them to God instead. Each one of them is capable of making sound, moral choices, and hearing God speak directly in their consciousness. Moreover, my independence and liberty is inextricably connected to theirs.
By refusing to jump off the cliff myself– by prudently exercising my own independence and liberty– I help someone else have the objectivity not to do so as well. Please join me.