Freedom Rider: Declaring My Independence From Selectiveness and Snark

Fourth of July, Independence Day, Confederate flag, Southern rights vs. others rights, carrying guns in Starbucks, health care, political disagreementI’d like to propose a number of items from which we can declare independence. How about fossil fuels? Perhaps excessive consumerism? I know: We could declare independence from snark and its baby sister, shade.

These past couple of weeks have brought forth the nearly predictable hue and cry concerning our independence. Apparently certain white and/or Southern people feel as if their “rights” are getting taken away because “their” Confederate flag, which represents slavery and oppression for others, will no longer have pride of place. Freedom of speech, they cry.

Elsewhere, clerks and pastors, Justices and governors who decry the Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage are worried about infringement on their beliefs. Declaring their allegiance to their version of Christianity, they refuse to recognize, allow or perform said marriages. Freedom of religion, they cry, citing a higher authority whose words they appear to follow fitfully. Adultery okay, same-sex marriage not okay.

Here in America, we are highly selective about our freedoms. I have the right to frighten you by carrying my weapon into a Starbucks. You don’t have the right to tell me not to. I want to fly my Confederate flag. Your fear that it legitimizes institutional bias and celebrates a horrific time in our nation’s history is just you being all politically correct. Not that slavery is a good thing. After all, Rand Paul worries that the affordable health care (which does not mean free health care, but as a busy doctor, he can’t be expected to understand the nuances of the legislation) will enslave him by forcing him to serve people who can’t pay him what he, as a busy doctor deserves.

Freedom: It’s not just for the downtrodden.

Still, I celebrate the notion of liberty, which is why I’d like to propose a number of items from which we can declare independence. How about fossil fuels? Perhaps excessive consumerism? I know: We could declare independence from snark and its baby sister, shade.

Perhaps we might declare freedom from the tyranny of pettiness or public opinion or the embrace of false equivalencies or attractively packaged oversimplifications. We can pledge to become independent of group-think, close-mindedness, bias, hubris, fear, distrust, rage, or an overwhelming sense of entitlement. We might even shake off the shackles of our current malaise and reject the trendy apocalyptical mindset that grips our collective psyches and say “no more” to our restrictive conviction that we are being shafted, shuttled off, shunted aside, left behind, passed over, taken advantage of, lied to, misunderstood, or mistreated.

I think the Founding Fathers would be proud. Now, hand me a sparkler.

Nikki Stern has published two non-fiction books, Because I Say So  and Hope in Small Doses  a 2015 Eric Hoffer Montaigne Medal finalist given to non-fiction works that inspire, provoke and redirect thought. Her essays have also appeared in the New York Times, Newsweek, USA Today, The Broad Side, Salon and Humanist Magazine. She’s been a guest on NPR’s “All Things Considered” and CBS “Sunday Morning,” among others. Her new novella, Don’t Move, is a suspense thriller available exclusively on Kindle. She’s currently working on a novel of magic and mystery set in New Orleans. 

Image via Wikimedia Commons/Gabriel Pollard/CC License

  • ajcalhoun

    Here is a whole box of sparklers. Brilliant and beautifully said. Happy Independence Day!

  • Love this, Nikki!

  • marlene Dunham

    Well said (as always) Nikki!

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