Today is Canada Day and Sunday is U.S. Independence Day. We generally consider both holidays as the birthdays of the two nations. However, I’ve long thought of the two as conception days instead of birthdays. Because independence was not achieved by Canada in 1867, nor by the United States in 1776. To be born requires several stages or metamorphosis.
In Canada’s case, there was less violence than was the case with the U.S. Although Canada became consolidated as a collection of colonies into provinces in 1867 under the British North American Act, it was not completely separated from the United Kingdom until 1982. That accomplished, there have still been various acts to further increase Canadian Independence. Furthermore, the British Queen’s portrait remains on Canadian money. Meantime, while the lower 13 Colonies that comprise the original United States declared Independence on July 4, 1776, official Independence did not occur until the Treaty of Paris was signed on September 3, 1783. One might say that Canada had a longer gestation time than did the United States.
As I remember my friends in Canada and here in the United States, I note that we will celebrate our respective national holidays during the next few days. This lead to my mind wandering into the general subject of independence and how much each of us is or is not an independent person. To be considered as independent, each of us has four factors to consider: awareness of the self, an activated conscience, creativity, and the capacity to act. These provide us with the powers to respond, to choose, to change, and to defend ourselves. To be authentically independent gives us a larger capacity to live our lives as we deem fit.
As it is with nations, individual independence is a continuous balancing act. In order for us to survive and thrive on Earth, we require interaction and cooperation with other people in particular, and with the planet in general. We are not mere cogs in the wheel, we have the capability to act as individuals. So, we balance intimacy and independence for effective living. As in international relations, interpersonal relations utilize cooperation instead of antagonism. Sometimes our originality requires assertive push-back. In the case of human beings, we achieve our liberation through creative work, the arts, active philosophy, and physical exploration of the world. The extent to which we exercise these aspects determines our level of judgment, perception, and actual autonomy.
“There is no dignity quite so impressive, and no one independence quite so important, as living within your means.”–Calvin Coolidge
The most elevated theories and philosophies are useless if we are careless with our spending habits. There are few freedoms as sweet as have zero credit card and mortgage balances. Countless books, seminars, blogs, vlogs, and financial advisors have advocated financial freedom throughout the years. The extent of our personal independence in the world requires some measure of money smarts and financial flexibility that we have gained. How much prudence we exercise goes far in determining our level of financial independence and general independence. Naturally, this is complicated by where on Earth we live, and to whom we were born. It is more difficult for a North Korean to achieve personal independence, than someone from Denmark. That said, most of us are able to choose to become more financially independent.
This is not to claim that only money necessarily gives us independence, some people achieve independence by not having money in the bank and property, galore. Such people have taken to living as wandering monks, nuns, and hermits. They are unencombered with material things, and have chosen extreme simplicity. Even though they mentally and spiritually thrive in this manner, they are still not fully independent. They require the generosity of benefactors. Their benefactors are usually people who have gained some measure of financial independence and/or the generosity of nature to provide food and shelter from the elements.
Even though we can proclaim and claim freedoms as our own, we still require the actions of others. Looking at the bigger picture, independence is balanced with interdependence. The same can be said for nations like Canada, and the United States.
The Blue Jay of Happiness ponders a statement from 19th century political scientist, historian, and political philosopher, Alexis de Tocqueville. . “I know of no country in which there is so little independence of mind and real freedom of discussion as in America.”