As we in the United States celebrate another Fourth of July holiday, our thoughts turn to the true meaning of independence.
Thomas Jefferson wrote that all men are created equal
and that we have "certain unalienable rights," including the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. But what does independence mean to you? Are you really at liberty to pursue your truest human potential?
When the country was being born, it needed to rebel and state its independence, much as a young child first gaining his freedoms as a person separate from his caretakers. The Declaration was drawn to protect the citizenry from a government that would deny and intercept our efforts at self determination and realizing our greatest, individual human potential.
But now, just a couple of centuries later, we are called upon to work together, not at odds, with one another. Today, our challenge is more about how to keep ourselves, our communities and the planet we all share alive and well than it is about asserting our independence.
This doesn't mean each and every one of us does not have to account for ourselves individually. In fact, self-governance is a key mandate of living a "Hongik" life. Hongik means that, while each person should live up to his best human potential, he should always be mindful of what impact on or benefit to others
, and the earth, his actions will have.
After all, no matter how unique you are, you are inextricably bound to sharing your human experience with every other citizen of the earth. And what you do affects all of life around you. This is not meant to make you feel isolated, but rather, to feel fully part of the human family, embraced by Mother Earth herself.
Part of being independent means that you have self-worth—confidence in yourself and your ability to govern yourself.
In the beginning of our life, our self-esteem and sense of our value is dependent upon our parents' influence and perception of us and the world. What they say we are worth is what we believe about ourselves. Later, it is society who we let tell us what our life is worth.
Although we are free to pursue our own dreams, we are still a society that values status. We use titles and college degrees, money and material things to measure a person's worth.
Society tends to value its citizens' social status over their unique traits. Some occupations, for example, are given more approval and power than others. Or, we value our children more when they have good test scores and college degrees while discounting those who are self-taught or took their education from on the job experience. In other words, we compete with one another.
How many of you, or how many people do you know, set aside your passions and true talents to please this status-hungry system?
What if you'd be much happier being a farmer than a lawyer? What if your child is a gifted artist who will lend a great deal more beauty to the world if allowed to develop his art than if he was pushed to pursue work that he never feels it feeds his soul's purpose? What if we never allow our future citizens the right to realize their truest self?
We often let social standing and what others think of us rule our actions and self-esteem.
But it doesn't have to stay this way. You can learn to develop your own value, to be valuable to yourself.
The world needs not mediocre or incompetent farmers, lawyers, artists. The world needs the best ones. The ones who put their whole heart and soul into their livelihoods. That is the best way to create a holistic society.
Learning to value yourself helps the rest of us learn to value all people for exactly who they are, not for who we say they should be.
This is a main tenet of Brain Education
, a program that trains the person in not only finding true confidence and self-worth, but also shows them how to manifest their true value in their lives.
In turn, when all people are living up to their fullest potential, and are fulfilled in their own lives, it will naturally spill over to the greater society and create a whole, harmonious society built on mutual respect.
How can we appreciate our personal freedoms while still living up to our obligations toward the earth and one another? Ilchi Lee says that, once we all discover and recognize our own true value, it will be easy to recognize and respect that in others.
So, today, to truly embrace your independence, honor your fellow humans and the earth that supports every aspect of your life. Believing in yourself and the incredible powers for change that you possess is the most delicious freedom of all.
Happy Independence Day!