We are at the crossroads of confused thinking about our concept of Independence.
We just have added Juneteenth to our National calendar, accepting another Independence Day, distinct from July Fourth, the day of freedom for our black brethren. American independence, celebrated on July 4, commemorates the human and historical landmarks of our great country. And the Independence Day of India, August 15, is marching close on the heels.
Too many Independence Days? Not really.
An Independence Day proclaims the victory of the human spirit which defies to be dominated by any oppressive or suppressive forces. The day might be different in different parts of the world but there is a constancy in its core.
Let us learn from the quotes on Independence
“Independence is Happiness” – Susan B. Anthony
I am no bird; and no net ensnares me; I am a free human being with an independent will. – Charlotte Bronte
I have an independent streak. You know, it’s kind of hard to tell an independent woman what to do. – Betty Ford
My mother told me to be a lady. And for her, that meant be your own person, be independent.- Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Unlike a drop of water which loses its identity when it joins the ocean, man does not lose his being in the society in which he lives. Man’s life is independent. He is born not for the development of society alone, but for the development of his own self. – B.R. Ambedkar
Independence is my birthright. – Lokmanya Tilak
All of the above sayings originated in a period of time characterized by deprivation of rights and oppression inflicted on the basis of gender, creed, and cast. The authors cited above reflect an assertion for being accepted as an independent. There is a ring of revolt as they reinstituted their rights, lest they will ever be condemned to endless confinement. Independence usually follows a revolution rather than emerging as a natural product of evolution. The dawn of Independence nevertheless is bound to be succeeded by the scorching heat of midday. Acquired independence is, therefore, only a battle half won. The other half is a never-ending battle to preserve its health and nurture it.
Now is the time to RIPEN our rights of Independence
We need to recognize that, as independents, we are not solo singers but partakers in a chorus playing in the world at large. Independence is our elementary right but to be enjoyed in an elemental way. As we are now painfully observing, reckless independence can lead to a shipwreck.
We see a fractured Independence
We are most likely to turn our attention first to Asia and Africa where Democracy is most threatened.
China, Hongkong, Myanmar, African countries rivet our attention where the fight for democracy results in mass murders. Even India seems to be shifting its values to discriminate against non-Hindu citizens. Recently, Cuba is most vociferous about gaining its independence while its most prestigious neighbor, USA, is watching its hard-earned democracy shifting to shaky ground.
We proclaimed August 15 as Svatantrya Din(Sanskrit), Azadi Din (Urdu), and Independence Day (English). It is imperative that the world has to stop nurturing the neglect of human rights.
“Eternal vigilance is the price of Liberty,” is an apt statement attributed to Thomas Jefferson.
Symbiosis: A Fundamental Law of Nature
Symbiosis is a scientific term denoting the process of one life-supporting the other. It implies that the integrity of our life will depend on our ability to function as a team to preserve and nurture all lives around us. We cannot exist without accepting coexistence as our open secret of healthy survival. Racial divides, spurious self-proclaimed supremacies, evaluations by birth, gender and geography, hatred for heterogeneity, self-destructive disregard for nature, deprivation of human dignity are all our means of mass destruction. Don’t look for them anywhere else. They are evident on every page of human history. Shakespeare puts it succinctly in his play Measure for Measure written in 1603:
But man, proud man, Dress’d in a little brief authority, Most ignorant of what’s most assured,
His glassy essence-like an angry ape, Plays such fantastic tricks before high heaven,
As makes angels weep……
A similar message is reflected in our eternal, spiritually evergreen Shanti Mantra:
Om sahana vavatu…..
“Let the freed make others free” is our Vedic vow.
Disjointed independence wrapped in dark ignorance is indeed a dangerous weapon causing self-annihilation, sooner or later. Dependability with its inherent integrity is a prerequisite to achieve and preserve Independence. Let us widen and deepen our vision so that we are not condemned to see history repeat itself.
Bhagirath Majmudar, M.D. is an Emeritus Professor of Pathology and Gynecology-Obstetrics at Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia. Additionally, he is a priest, poet, playwright, Sanskrit Visharada, and Jagannath Sanskrit Scholar. He can be contacted at [email protected]