If I say to you, “4th of July”, what’s the first thing that comes to your mind? Cookouts? Fireworks shows?
Sure, these are traditional, and fun ways to celebrate Independence Day. I will be partaking in these traditional activities this evening myself…if the rain passes by then, that is.
However, I’ve been contemplating this holiday over the last few days – the true meaning behind Independence Day. Yes, we celebrate on this day as the anniversary of the day the Declaration of Independence for our country was signed. But what is it we are truly to be celebrating on this day? Our freedom(s), right? Sometimes I have to wonder just how much “freedom” we have left.
We have the right to own our own property/home, which we spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to purchase, plus thousands more in yearly taxes, yet the government can still dictate what we can and can’t do with it.
We have the right to an education – go to school at your own risk though! You may very well be stabbed or shot by a fellow student.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Oh, how wonderful that sounds!
But are all Americans treated as equals? Are we all left to our pursuit of Life, Liberty and Happiness so long as we are lawful and respectful of others? From what I’ve seen, in my lifetime alone – not so much.
(Also, notice that the wording is “endowed by their Creater”. It does not say “God” even though Christianity is the prominent religion in America.) Then we have the First Amendment, in which there is a part that says the government “shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” This means as American citizens, we have the right to be Christian, Wiccan, Muslim, Jewish, etc. etc. and can not be held from our beliefs. So I should be able to worship God, Goddess or the Great and Powerful Oz if I so choose. However, we know that religious intolerance is a big problem in our country as well, even from our current president who several years ago stated that “Witchcraft is not a religion.”
And our fellow Pagans who are in the military fighting overseas, or stationed at a U.S. military base somewhere, HAVE been denied their rights to the free exercise of their religious beliefs by our government.
It appears that our government feels it is okay for Pagans to join the military, to fight and possibly be seriously injured or die for our country, but it has not been okay for them to openly practice their spiritual beliefs. How can they be denied their faith, especially in a time of war? Is it not faith and prayer that help many people through the most difficult times of their lives?
Though this day is not one of the Witches’/Wiccan Sabbats, how do we as such honor this day? Do any of you do a special ritual for Independence Day?
I for one, honor the Declaration of Independence for its true intentions, and I pray that some day, sooner rather than later, America, as a whole, “gets its act together” and upholds the spirit of such. That Americans will remember that each and every one of us have these rights, and we can learn to live together peacefully, respecting each others’ differences. That one day we Americans WILL all be treated as equals. And that we as American Pagans (and any other non-Christian religion) will be at least tolerated and left to worship as we choose, without fear or prejudice.
I’d also like to say, that regardless of your opinions on the war, let’s all take a moment to honor our troops, our Pagan brothers and sisters, and their colleagues. They are doing what they must, what they are ordered to do – they have joined the military because of their desire to serve our country and protect our freedoms.
To you, my readers, my friends – Happy Independence Day!