"Freedom is nothing but a chance to be better." ~Albert Camus
"There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured by what is right with America." ~William Jefferson Clinton
Like many Americans, on this Independence Day, 2010, I am thinking about what it means for a nation to be independent. In 1776, it meant independence from England and its colonial grasp. But 234 years later it means something much different. In fact, it means many different things to many different people. Independence means freedom to think, do and speak as you wish. And at its core, that is what independence is really all about.
But in a larger context, a national context, there is more to independence than freedom of the individual -- or, microscale independence. In a national context, independence has more to do with unity of the whole than it does 307 million disparate ways of thinking, doing and speaking.
But large scale (read: group) independence can be a little harder to grasp and sometimes even harder to see examples of. Yes, we are independent in that we are a sovereign nation with our own laws, borders and national defense. But in terms of our involvement in the global community, independence is much more difficult to grasp.
Take energy independence, for example. Energy independence has become a political rallying cry for groups from across the political spectrum. From environmental activists to labor groups to the oil and gas industry, energy independence evokes a strong emotional reaction from many. And for decades, American presidents have extolled the benefits and promised an energy independent future. But how important of a goal should energy independence be? And--in light of the ongoing disastrous BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico--at what cost to the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat?
Energy independence is a laudable goal, but it is important to also consider why we need it; what it will look like; and how we will there.
I would argue that independence of that sort will ultimately depend upon on reliance of another sort.
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