Happy Independence Day weekend!
This weekend, as American flags gently waft in the summer breeze; when we’re outside grilling on the BBQ with friends and family; or driving to the shore for fireworks and the beach, reflect on how far our society has come as a whole. There’s a reason other countries are still envious of life in the USA. There’s a reason why immigrants continue to flock to our country in pursuit of the “American Dream”. In order to celebrate independence and appreciate our liberties, we need to remember the path and mindset that was taken to get here.
**Disclaimer: I am not a history expert.**
The central conflict of the American Revolution revolved around overregulation from the Monarch of Britain. After the French and Indian War was fought a few decades previously (forcibly uprooting millions of Indigenous Americans), England was heavily in debt from the costs of sending troops and supplies across the Atlantic Ocean. To recoup the costs, laws like The Sugar Act (1764) and the Stamp act (1765) were passed with the intention of taxing colonists on goods they produced. When you’re living life and giving proceeds to the King of England that’s thousands of miles away and not easily accessible via Twitter or email, you can imagine where the feelings of resentment stemmed from.
“Give me liberty, or give me death!” was the famous quote by Patrick Henry on the heels of the American Revolution in 1775. A quote so simple- so succinct- to effectively rally colonists to create a revolution against the reign of England. The ultimatum that Henry gave to the people was to either physically fight for their freedoms or to die trying. There was no in-between. The mentality of wartime and what society in the 18th century looked like is a far-distant historical memory. When the toughest decision that you and I may face today is what to eat for dinner or if I should double-tap this low-effort social media post, there’s a certain motivational mindset that’s lacking.
What is the last decision or principle that you passionately fought for? What’s the last news article that left you enraged and actually led to action instead of clicking that thumbs-up or share button on the screen and furiously typing a snarky comment? What’s the last burning desire for reform that you’ve experienced that you’d be willing to physically fight and put your life on the line for? That opportunity and proposition sounds completely out of tune with today’s societal norms, and rightfully so. The American Dream is to strive for a comfortable life, free from conflict and worry. However, instead of the English Monarchy being a clear public enemy #1, we have rising drug costs making healthcare unaffordable. We have bad-apple politicians using their position of power to gain personal wealth. We have systemic racism and incarceration being perpetuated even after slavery ended 150+ years ago. We have outdated regulations telling us how to live life from almost a century ago.
Except now, times are different. The horrific bloodshed on the fields of Bunker Hill has transformed into viral videos of discrimination and injustices. The warcry of Patrick Henry has been replaced by calls to action from advocacy groups. There will be no centralized rallying cry of “the British are coming!” by Paul Revere because the battles are already here and occurring daily. The difference is that YOU and I must willingly and proudly be the purveyors of change. The American Dream becomes smaller and smaller not just because of outside forces, but because of inaction by the majority. Do you truly feel free?
I’m not here to ask you which hill you’d like to die on but to simply reflect on what has meaning to you. Change happens one uncomfortable conversation at a time. Being a cannabis advocate for reform means dealing with injustices of racial discrimination, wealth disparity, uneducated naysayers, educated naysayers, and antiquated rulebooks. What are you willing to sacrifice in order to freely light up that joint in your backyard after a long day of work? What are you willing to face to change the system that won’t allow Olympic athlete Sha’Carri Richardson to complete her life’s work due to a technicality? What will be your breaking point to finally say enough is enough?
Instead of muskets and long-rifles, arm yourself with science and data-driven facts to have effective conversations. Instead of horses riding through the night, use your voice and influence to create meaningful change. We must utilize our current freedoms to ensure society 200 years from now can look back and continue to celebrate Independence Day.
Fight the good fight and truly believe in your personal “why”. Voice your opinion during dark times. Take action. And as always, continue the conversation.