Fourth of July – the Idea of Independence

Fourth of July – Independence Day. Who wouldn’t know? Every school child learns about it. It is the National Day of the United States. It commemorates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, declaring independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain, the motherland of the colonists. It commemorates the end of the American Revolutionary War, in which many thousands paid the ultimate price to attain their new country’s independence.

Independence thus is a value deeply rooted in American history and culture. It is a defining element of the American self-image.

The idea of independence, though, is not restricted to the political realm alone. It is likewise perceived as a value in its own right in the fabric of our society: women have fought a valiant battle for their legal and financial independence from their male family members – fathers, brothers, husbands – for their right to make their own decisions, choose their husbands themselves or live on their own, be the masters of their own fate. The idea of independence is ranking high in our perception of moral values.

And yet – every single day more than 12,000 US citizens voluntarily give up a good part of their personal independence: they get married!  (Which brings us to our main subject here at Wedding Woof).Have you ever looked at weddings from this aspect? Bride and groom are giving up the freedom to do as they like, to go out when they feel like it without asking anyone, to travel whenever wanderlust strikes without having to consider someone else’s feelings or schedules. Thankfully by today those tying the knot do so on their own accord and from their own free will. So – why are they doing it?

Brian Lyke, a minister in Carmel-by-the-Sea who officiates at many weddings, put it this way: ” When we get married, we’re not just fulfilling a social expectation. “Everybody my age is getting married, so that is the normal thing to do!” No, I firmly believe that the reason for getting married lies a lot deeper. Most human beings feel a deep loneliness, feel that something is missing from their lives without a counterpart. Knowingly or unconsciously, they are longing for another human being to share their joys big and small, their frustrations, their successes and failures, in short, their everyday lives. Without this partner, they feel incomplete, and they are searching for completeness, looking for wholeness…for fulfillment, and I believe that that longing for wholeness is part of our nature.  Simply put, we’re made for each other, we’re made for relationship.” And that entails a mutual give-and-take, entails voluntarily giving up some of our hard-earned independence – for love.

And that’s not the only area where people give up part of their independence for love: every month more than 7000 dogs are brought into someone’s household, be it adopted from a shelter or bought from a breeder. (Which brings us to the other focus of Wedding Woof…) Taking up responsibility for a pet automatically means a dramatic change in lifestyle: you can’t leave the house any more for hours at a time, you can’t travel as you used to… you always have to be mindful of your pet’s needs and happiness. And yet – ask any dog owner, and they will assure you that relinquishing part of their independence is double-and triple-rewarded by the love their pet gives them every single day. Here you have it again: sometimes love trumps independence.

Cheers to all those who courageously relinquish some independence in favor of love – for someone two-legged or four-legged… Which should not preclude you from celebrating Independence Day as well!