my declaration of in(ter)dependence

Independence Day. It is, like many U.S. holidays, lost in part to beer and fireworks and sales, the meaning diluted or held up as a siren song for Us vs Them chest-thumping talk, the kind of talk that inevitably ends in war, in order for another independence to be won. And so on. The U.S. Declaration of Independence contains this sentence: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.  All men and women are created equal, indeed, but that is evidently not self-evident to those who have determined that some Rights are to be voted on, negating the very idea of Rights in the first place. So, Independence Day. Choice Day. Declaration Day. A day when our founding fathers thought enough about the idea of happiness as a human right to say so. Unalienable, even. Whose happiness, I wonder? The people in the majority, or everyone? And haven’t we lost happiness in pursuit of being right, being against something or someone, winning? We take our freedom so much for granted, don’t we? We place conditions on it: Oprah loses weight and we think, “Sure, sure, I could lose weight, too, if I had a personal chef and personal trainer,” forgetting that we are free to make healthy choices about mindful moving and eating, just as she is. We witness bullying and do nothing to stop it, fearing we’ll make a scene. We bitch and complain about politics, and then we don’t vote. We squander our...