The United States of America was founded on the principle of independence. So why are we depriving our children of it? We build walls and fences to protect them, structure recreation to channel them, and make decisions for them to keep them from making mistakes. All the while, we’re taking away from our kids what we Americans value most—freedom.
The Fourth of July reminds us of how important our freedom really is. Instead of enjoying our freedom, we spend most of our time tied up trying to make money. While a certain amount of money is required for basic life needs, we don’t stop there. We wrestle for bigger houses, fancier cars, better toys, and the highest rated colleges for our kids so they can make more money to buy more stuff. We get so entrenched in the competitive warfare at home that we forget about the actual wars we’ve fought and won to keep our freedom.
My grandfather was a veteran and he fought in WWII. My uncle is a veteran and he fought in Vietnam during the Cold War. More friends and colleagues than I can count are veterans of more recent conflicts in the Middle East and Africa. I salute the veterans and all the active military personnel as I celebrate Independence Day and relish in the freedom that I have as an American.
I encourage fellow Americans to appreciate independence, pure and simple, and pass it on to the next generation. Our children will one day be the ones fighting for our freedom, whether in the military, business or in politics. They will need to be strong leaders who are resilient, confident, and able to take care of themselves, their families, and their countrymen. It is up to us to help them develop these qualities by giving them independence now.
Let the kids outside. Let them take risks and learn from their mistakes. Let them have downtime to invent their own games and reflect on who they are and want to become. Let them be who they are and not who you want them to be.
When I was 21, my grandfather—the WWII veteran—wrote me a letter recognizing my coming of age. He said that job satisfaction comes first. He reminded me of my freedom to choose a career that fit my skills and interests and not to become a slave to money. That is some of the best advice I’ve ever gotten and I share it with you. Relish your independence and encourage others to do the same.