Why I Am Not Celebrating (4.July.2020)

This year, the summer of 2020, I am not celebrating the 4th of July… Independence Day.

I mean, can we really celebrate “Independence” when we have not yet understood how Interdependent we really are?

There are SO many reasons.

I don’t feel very celebratory. I mean, our country is divided, Black Lives Matter and have always mattered and we are STILL arguing about this (no, not Blue Lives, or even All Lives! If you are arguing that, you’ve missed the point!). And we haven’t even touched the surface of Native Americans, whose land we took for our own independence. There are just too many unhealed wounds, un-repaired guilt, in the American psyche.

We are still in the unknowns of a global pandemic, and ‘Merica has not done so well to keep the number of cases down (we are even banned from entering the EU at this point).

And, we are facing an election year with one possible outcome being one that may have devastating results for a large portion of our country.

With all of this, I am in the middle-place. The gooey one. The place where the caterpillar turns to goo before emerging as a butterfly. Being in the middle-place is a recognition that I am (we are) neither here nor there. We are not at the point of birth; We are not at the point of death. We are in the middle-place.

The middle-place is where we realize that we are not yet there. We are not yet through the pandemic. We are not yet through this election year. We are not yet through Black Lives Matters and all that it stands for. We aren’t at the place of the Civil Rights Movement, and yet, we are not THERE. We are not yet there on LGBTQAI2+ either. We are just not yet there.

So much hinges on “when I get there, I will…” but we are not yet there. So, what action can I take right now?

Right now, instead of turning outward and celebrating as usual, we are being called to turn inward. Indeed, this time aligns with a full moon and an eclipse. It is the perfect storm of an invitation to turn inward, to dismantle the wrong conditioning that we have all been subject to, and to do the deeper work of inner awakening. And while doing the inner work, clear action must be also be taken.

How can the 4th of July be celebrated, when all lives are not yet equal, because we have not done the work to dismantle the racist structures our nation was founded on?

What does “Independence” mean in the face of realizing how interdependent we are, nationally and globally?

How can I celebrate a country that tears each other apart on social media — over masks — over speaking up? A country where if feels that so many wish to remain in ignorance, than to listen and learn. A country that cannot have meaningful discourse without the ugly faces of oppression showing up, by tone-policing, breaking down in tears, or by being the dominating aggressor? None of this has lead to anything meaningful.

No, I am not celebrating.

4. July. 2020, is a sobering day. And perhaps it should be.

A day of reflection on how this “great nation” was built on the backs of peoples oppressed, who continue to be. That our entire system is set up to maintain that oppression, rather than offer long overdue equitable opportunity for people to rise above.

And then from reflection, from that middle place, clear action must be taken.

What does “Independence” mean in the face of realizing how interdependent we are, nationally and globally?

Instead of watching the fireworks tonight, perhaps I will watch the historically inaccurate but still entertaining with a point Broadway musical, Hamilton, just released on Disney Plus, which I am also in that middle-place about, for many of the same reasons.

And today, reflecting on the words of Frederick Douglass, I feel the anger burning, that 170 years later (244 years since this country’s founding), these words still feel true — to me, with acknowledgement that these words ring even more truly to anyone who is at the center of the movement, Black Lives Matter.

“I say it with a sad sense of the disparity between us. I am not included within the pale of glorious anniversary! Your high independence only reveals the immeasurable distance between us. The blessings in which you, this day, rejoice, are not enjoyed in common. The rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity and independence, bequeathed by your fathers, is shared by you, not by me. The sunlight that brought light and healing to you, has brought stripes and death to me. This Fourth July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn…”

— Frederick Douglass, July 5, 1852

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Kristen Boyle is a Yoga Therapist and master yoga teacher, working with students, teachers and clients, all over the world. https://www.embodiedliving.academy