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  • Writer's pictureKatherine Callejas

The Irony of Independence: Seeking True Freedom in the Shadows of Capitalism


As fireworks light up the sky this Fourth of July, they remind us of freedom and independence. But for many of us, this doesn't match our daily lives. This article explores this irony and offers a practical guide on how we can seek true freedom amidst these challenges.


In America, freedom is emphasized as a birthright, but everything we need to survive—shelter, food, water, electricity, and the internet—are all caught up in a system where prices are constantly rising but paychecks don’t. The times when you could pay for your basic needs with a day's wage and still have a little leftover are long gone. Now, many of us are just one missed paycheck away from starvation and/or homelessness. 


How free can we feel when we are giving more than half our income to pay for our home? Are we really free if our schools are overcrowded and underfunded, we cannot afford to spend time outside of home, higher education leaves us in debt, and corporations decide what we pay? 

 

Independence Day is supposed to celebrate freedom, but for many, it’s a reminder of what we don’t have—freedom from financial worries. We live in a society where how much money you make is often seen as your worth. True wellness—feeling good and living well—is hard to achieve when we are forced to stress about affording our basic needs. 


We often hear about chasing the American Dream. But for many, that dream is more like a never-ending, unachievable chase. Our communities, especially the ones that get the least help, show it, with budget cuts impacting public schools and underserving public services such as transportation and free quality health care. How are we to achieve our goals when the hurdles in place grow larger and our resources become more limited? We can no longer continue to live individualistic lives if we want to increase the quality of life and become our truest selves. 


We are not powerless. The same unity and pride that bring us together to watch fireworks can also push us to expect more from those in charge. Why should our hard work mostly benefit the super-rich while we, our children, and our loved ones continue to suffer?


This Fourth of July, let’s think about what freedom really means. It’s more than just remembering a victory from long ago. Real freedom should mean not having to worry about basic needs being met, being able to live well, and healing from the constant hardships of not having enough.


As the fireworks go off this year, let’s start something new—a commitment to fight for real day-to-day freedoms, not just the ones written down in history books. Our happiness depends on it. Together, we can make sure that Independence Day is about celebrating not just the freedoms we’ve won long ago, but the freedoms we live every day.


Here’s how you can get started: 


If you're moved to make a difference and advocate for change within your community, starting can often be the hardest part. Here’s a simple guide to help you begin:


1. Educate Yourself and Your Community


  • Understand the Issues: Stay informed about local and national issues affecting your community. Websites, libraries, community meetings, and local newspapers are excellent resources.

  • Spread Awareness: Share your knowledge with friends, family, and neighbors. Organize small meetings or discussion groups to explore these issues deeper and brainstorm potential solutions.


2. Engage with Local Government


  • Attend Council Meetings: Your city or town council meetings are where decisions about your community are made. Attend these meetings to understand the challenges your community faces and the people making those decisions.

  • Speak Up: Most council meetings have public comment periods. Prepare a brief, respectful statement about your concerns or the changes you want to see.


3. Rally Your Neighbors


  • Organize a Community Group: Start a group focused on specific issues like improving local schools, reducing crime, or advocating for better public services. Use social media platforms to gather and organize.

  • Plan Local Actions: Organize clean-ups, fund drives, or petition signing events. Visible actions like these not only improve your community but also draw public and media attention to your causes.


4. Build Coalitions


  • Partner with Existing Organizations: Join forces with established local groups who share your advocacy goals. They can provide valuable resources, support, and guidance.

  • Network at Events: Attend or volunteer at community events to meet like-minded individuals and groups. Networking can lead to powerful collaborations.


5. Use Social Media Wisely


  • Spread the Word: Create content that educates and informs others about your causes. Engage with your audience by responding to comments and sharing updates regularly.

  • Promote Actions and Achievements: Use social media to promote upcoming events and celebrate your community’s achievements. This can inspire further action and involvement.


6. Advocate for Policy Changes


  • Understand the Process: Learn how local policies are made, who makes them, and how you can influence the process.

  • Lobby for Change: Develop clear, actionable requests and use your community group’s power to lobby local officials. Attend hearings and provide testimony on why these changes are necessary.


7. Empower Others to Lead


  • Encourage Leadership: In your community group, encourage others to take on leadership roles. Offer training sessions to build advocacy, leadership, and organizational skills.

  • Stay Positive and Persistent: Change takes time. Celebrate small victories to maintain momentum and keep your community motivated and hopeful.


By following these steps, you can begin to make meaningful changes in your community and beyond. Remember, every big movement starts with individual action. Together, you can work toward a future where every Fourth of July celebrates true independence, freedom, and equity for all.

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