Don’t you love that word? Independence! It has a nice ring to it and such a strong energy and essence that you nearly expect a flag at the end of it instead of some passive punctuation. Normally, when we use this word we are talking about those who have fought in war and we celebrate them with sincere appreciation, firecrackers, noisemakers and flags. However, we live in a new era today and we are fighting a very different kind of war. Today, we are fighting for our very survival and the weapon of this war is consciousness.
Today our planet, and our survival, depends upon you becoming an independent thinker and that is not popular, albeit priceless. People who stay in the pack with what is popular conventional thinking, keep us trapped in the status quo, or take us backward. You don’t have to be a brainiac to be an independent thinker. Kids at two or three eat their shoes and talk to their bananas. They are independent thinkers. Somewhere along the way, after being stirred with a bit of parental, or societal pressure, we loose that creative imagination, and that skill. How do we get back to this desperately needed quality of character?
First, we pull up our big girl and boy pants and rediscover our courage. We need to stop listening to the media, who seldom if ever tell the truth about anything anymore and we begin to listen to the wise voice inside us that really has all the answers. Perhaps, it’s time to give up our adoration for mindless entertainment and go back to perceiving the world and everyone in it from the foundation of acceptance. Let’s kick separation and animosity to the curb. It doesn’t seem to be working for us.
Secondly, let’s deliberately seek out information and experiences that debunk our old ways of thinking and challenge us to move to the fertile ground of curiosity. You can find that rich soil in a new neighborhood, a volunteer position with persons who are homeless, or who have AIDS, a foreign country, a good book or a kick-ass master teacher that asks you to think. Tom O’Leary, an Australian Alien living in Japan says, we should begin to “practice disbelief.” I believe he mans instead of will-less acceptance. After all, the right use of will is to push the edges of our current limited awareness with compassion.
Third, start asking your self what really matters. Is it the quality of your character and soul or is it being right and or part of the in-crowd? Being still from time to time to ask that question, has a humbling affect and tends to put things back into the right perspective and priority. In addition, watching ourselves from a distance can be very entertaining. “It’s never too late to change the programming imprinted in childhood, carried in our genes or derived from previous lives; the solution is mindfulness in the present moment.” —Peter Shepherd
One of the most important aspects of independence is integrity. Inherently, we are free and independent, but only in equal degree to the level of our awareness. The more you know, the more you understand what is truly important and what is not and the freer you become to stand in and voice what the wisdom inside you knows to be true.
Integrity is very real and tangible. Integrity is measurable and embodies such traits as: taking personal responsibility, keeping your word and being faithful in the little things. It’s about being honest, standing your ground for what is right, maintaining your honor and sense of virtue, being morally upright (however that looks to you personally), making right choices and doing what you say you will do. Integrity, like love, is something you cannot pretend to have. You either have it or you don’t, and the majority of life’s circumstances will ask that you prove that you have it. If your core belief is one of integrity, your decisions will bear that out. If not, that too will become obvious. The more you stand in your integrity, the more independent you become. You are less guided by outside influences than you are by your own center of wisdom.
Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “I pack my trunk, embrace my friends, embark on the sea, and at last wake up in Naples, and there beside me is the stern fact, the sad self, the unrelenting identical (person) that I fled from.” Real independence take courage, it’s not for sissies. Nevertheless, the truth is, that as long as you keep seeking your good feelings and applause from outside yourself, you are clearly not yet independent. You can’t be independent if you let others tell you what your values ought to be.
So, this July 4th, take a moment to remember in awe, respect and gratitude those who have valiantly fought for our freedom. Then decide to fight for yours.