Saturday, July 4, 2009

Independence Day....Are We Truly Free?

Independence Day in Rwanda. Independence Day and the celebrations around the significance of this day in America makes this one of my favorite holidays. Today, it is has a very different feel. It's not about the BBQ, although a succulent pile of pulled pork would be close to heaven for me. It's not about the picnics, the parades, the fireworks. Today, being in Rwanda, I have questioned the idea of Independence. Are we ever really Independent?

Rwanda is not independent. It is not run as a democracy. It is a police state controlled by President Paul Kagame. There are no free elections at the moment. He has been the President for the past 15 years coming to power after the genocide. However, he has made Rwanda a "free" country. It is free from the hideously violent past. People can travel freely within the country. Free enterprise is at work through the Rwanda Development Board. This is Independence for Rwanda. Ironically they celebrated their Independence Day on July 1st.

Paul Kagame is truly a remarkable man. He was able to unite a country that had been under the control of others for decades. He was able to reconcile the people of Rwanda so they would be able to enjoy the independence and freedoms denied by the sadistic, methodical plan of genocide born from years under the control of Belgium. He freed Tutsis from certain death and elimination. He freed Hutus from the evil of destroying an entire tribe. Together they are now free, under the control of President Kagame. This is Independence. This is the only option still for this country. The prayer is President Kagame does not let power corrupt as in the case of so many other African countries. Robert Mugabe, President of Zimbabwe, a perfect example. The prayer is that one day there will be free elections that can be held without violence. I pray for his safetly from his enemies that silently exist within this country.

I think about being an American, living and celebrating the freedoms being from the United States offers. However, is America truly free? Yes, our President, Congress, other government officials are elected in "free" elections. However, are they really independent of the influences of lobbyists, money, and the desire for personal power? This is not to be a political discussion. Do not post your political opinions. These thoughts and questions are for you to really digest. On this Independence Day, is America truly free?

I believe we are becoming less "free". The last Presidential election was played out considerably in the media. Media I believe failed to report the "truth" and became too personally intertwined with the person and not the issues. Americans were left with trying to weed through the myriad of papers, mostly backing a candidate without reporting the views and plans for each candidate. I believe both candidates, in their desire to be President, continued to spin the truth for the audience, the media, and for the votes of the people they professed to represent. In the end, when I would talk to people about either candidate and why they voted the way they did I would hear, "I voted for Obama because he gives me hope." Or, "I voted for McCain because he was my only conservative choice." My question now is why didn't America have a choice to pick a President that could answers the issues directly, honesty and then implement their plan without the influence of all the people he "owed" in the end. This is not freedom in the purest sense. We are independent, we are not free.

Again...these are my thoughts, the beauty about America is that we are "free" to openly express our opinions.

Personally, independence comes with a price. My desire to live independently has consequences. The more I taste "freedom" the more it will impact the ones closest to me. How then can I be truly "free"? I struck out on this independent dream months ago. Every day I get more confident in my abilities. It is hard at times for me to feel excited about the freedom to make my new life choices when I understand there is someone at home who wants me home. I feel like I am tied to two worlds. It is frightening to look into the unknown of this pursuit of freedom. I could end up alone. Is being free to do exactly what you want to do at any time worth losing the tie to someone who understands my need for "independence"? I do not anxiously count the days until I get home. I do not think about going home. Can I just be "okay" with being independent?

It seems to work for America, it seems to work for Rwanda, will it work for me?


  1. Unfortunately in the grand schemes of things Kimster we can't truly have everything. People always say you can... but with every great pleasure and ideal comes a cost. So the question is really what price are you willing to pay for your freedom? I miss you and as much as I want you home I would rather you be happy. But I'm not married to you :)

    It's that word I keep hearing in my own head when I have to decide every weekend to either go out of town and ride through areas I've never seen or stay home and be a mom and wife (SACRIFICE )!!! Ugh I hate that word pulls you in many different directions and makes you choose one over the other. I love my family to death I just don't choose to spend every wakening moment with them :) Luckily and unluckily -- my husband enjoys getting out of dodge too and riding in new places. We both enjoy that guilty pleasure. But then my kids have NO parents home :( Thank Goodness for Grandparents !!! So I feel you on a smaller level but - every week there are forks in the road for me and I too have to choose a direction. So if I'm in Las Vegas, chances are that I have made a sacrifice :)

    The last few days have found me in Palm Springs with my daughter and my son ( he flew in-- He goes to college in Virginia and has a summer job Thank the Lord )....this was NOT a sacrifice -- we are having a great time and riding on HOT roads we have never been on before. The sacrifice is cutting the mileage down for my daughter. My son is 6"3 and 160 lbs wet so he is made for this sport. But this is a very very very small sacrifice, because at the moment I am experiencing the best of both worlds. Laughing and having great times with my kids and riding. The only person missing is my husband who is at Lake Mead. But that's okay we agreed to go separate ways this week. He has our good friends out there and he's having a good time knowing his family is enjoying themselves. I know he has a twinge of jealousy and is missing us because he has texted us all a thousand times :)He was willing to make the sacrifice and come eventhough he is NOT a waterpark person :) but I gave him the OUT. He now feels he shouldn't have taken it but it's better for all of us he did. If you've read my note on facebook from months ago you will recall my hubby is not a fan of waterparks in 112 degrees :)

    I sometimes worry about the ramifications of not making the sacrifices too. But I chose a family...if I wanted TOTAL EXCLUSIVE freedom I would have had to stay single and childless. So all in all I am truly happy and blessed with my choices and daily dilemmas. Although sometimes I seem pulled in many directions... This is my life.

    I know you will find the same insane balance that makes you choose to come home for a few and then head back to your dream.

    Love the life you LIVE !!!! Happy Independence Day !!!!!!!!!!!!!


  2. Kim,
    This is what makes you The crazy beautiful person that I fell in love with, that independent spirit we both have in us is what has gotten us in trouble at times and kept us together at other times. There are no right or wrong choices in life, only choices. Everything we choose to do has an effect on our life, the older we get the clearer this becomes. I have always believed in going after what makes you happy as a person and would never stop anyone from chasing thier dreams, most importantly I would never stop the one person I care about more than anything in this world. We have never lived a "traditional" life and that is a choice we made. I know that I choose to have you in my life everyday, even if you are 10,000 miles away, you are part of my life and that is a good choice to me. Happieness is only a state of mind and knowing you are smiling and fufulling that void you have had in your life, to expierance the unknown, to travel the world and impact peoples lives the way you are puts me in a great state of mind.
    No one knows what tomorrow holds for us, I think Tim Mcgraws song, Live like you were dieing or the end of Shawshank redemtion when morgan freeman says "get busy living or get busy dieing" sums up things well for us, two free spirits makeing choices that are not comfortable or easy for either of us but keep us and our Independence alive.
    Happy 4th of july. I Love you, stay crazy beautiful always, Mark.