Letting Freedom Ring
I confess that I’ve never really been a flag waver, much less a militant crusader for any political cause or party. Must be all that navel gazing. So when a friend asked if I would be posting something special for Independence Day, I initially dismissed the idea.
Then I started wondering if perhaps I was being too hasty. Then I started wondering about the whole subject of patriotism, particularly on occasions that call for celebrating the birth of the nation where I was born. Then I started wondering about my wondering about the subject of patriotism and when the wondering just started to get really out of hand, I took the topic to The Shower Team . . .
Few things reflect the variety of your ideas and preferences more than your diverse approaches to this topic. It is often a favorite way that you all have of separating yourselves into camps and engaging in battle after battle to prove yourselves right and each other wrong.
What many of you do have in common about this, however, is your tendency to focus on what is—which usually translates into a tendency to focus on what is wrong with your nation and particularly with your leaders. You become ever so passionate about those problems that you feel need to be fixed or those ineffective leaders who need to be replaced . . . and you push and you push and you push as hard as you can against what you see that you don’t like . . . and then, surprisingly, you are surprised when you keep getting more of it.
The quality of your leaders and the resulting (you believe) state of your nation is one of your favorite excuses to refuse to see and to allow the well being all around you. You convince yourselves that conditions must change . . . new leaders must be installed or new legislation adopted in order for you to feel better. Often your national holidays—particularly those that focus your attention on your nation’s history or its government or its losses—become occasions that activate your perception of the problems you see, and you use those observations as your excuse for condemning or criticizing what you don’t like—and therefore, as your excuse for excluding yourself from your own joy.
What we would encourage is that you use an occasion such as one of your national remembrances to practice letting that well being back in that you so often shut out in the name of patriotism or in your crusades to correct whatever you think is wrong. Challenge yourself to see the positive aspects of where you are—or in this case, where you live. Find as many things to appreciate about your nation, your state, your city, your neighborhood, as possible. Look around you and see the many many reasons—real and legitimate reasons—you have to be glad that you are where you are.
If you want to make it really interesting, make the same sort of list about your leaders—and not just the ones you voted for. Dare yourself to find the positive aspects, even in the ones you can’t wait to see leave office. We promise you—more positive change will result from that effort than from any campaign that you wage to rid the landscape of those you disapprove of.
Do as much of this sort of appreciative acknowledgement as you can manage sincerely—and then notice the effect of this exercise on you—your outlook, your point of view as a citizen of your country and your world, living in your time and place, experiencing all the opportunity, all the potential, all of the joy that your time and place offer to you.
Brave these sentiments and see how it feels to face your nation with appreciation rather than with ridicule or reproach. Take you attention off of all that you think is wrong and begin to see how much is good about where you are. Choose to see how independent your well being is from those you might disagree with . . . and let yourself hear and feel freedom really ring.
Okay I admit it. I almost felt like putting my hand over my heart there for a second. Maybe I’m just a sucker for a good speech. No doubt there are plenty of folks more committed to their causes and candidates than I who would eagerly debate The Team on some of these points.
But as I listen to the fireworks outside and let my mind wander around for a bit with the recognition of the liberties I enjoy . . . I find any fight pretty much gone out of me . . . and gratitude stirring. It leaves me feeling glad that I let myself wonder about this topic at the close of a day that, when all is said and done, is really about appreciation. And that leaves me feeling just a little freer. . . and for the moment, complete.