Independence Day seems like a good time to compare how the concepts of independence and freedom may change as we progress from young adulthood to middle age. As young adults, many of us sought independence from our family or community of origin. We felt compelled to map out our own worldviews and discover, sometimes painfully, [...]

Independence Day seems like a good time to compare how the concepts of independence and freedom may change as we progress from young adulthood to middle age.
As young adults, many of us sought independence from our family or community of origin. We felt compelled to map out our own worldviews and discover, sometimes painfully, our own truths. As we enter middle age, we come to realize that with independence comes responsibility. Just like the colonists who fought against the tyranny of a British king and won, we are now the ones in authority, which places certain demands upon us.
Likewise, as young adults, many of us desired to be free from the constraints of societal norms, values, and beliefs. As middle-age adults, we realize that freedom comes at a price and that some of the norms, values, and beliefs we once rejected actually serve a good purpose in keeping our society from falling apart.
As young adults, we may have taken our parents for granted at times and assumed that they would always be there when we needed them. As middle-aged adults, we have attended the funerals of one or more of our parents, as well as many others; perhaps our parents (or ourselves) have been divorced; in the end, we are left to ponder the meaning of it all. The words to a song made popular by Janis Joplin come to mind: 'Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose.'
As young adults, we may have had strong ideals that defined periods of our lives, ideals that seemed to be at the center of our lives. As middle-aged adults, we still hold to many of our youthful ideals, but these are now tempered by life experience. After all, we still have to pay the rent; we still have to eat.
This 4th of July has me reflecting upon what independence and freedom mean and just what I am willing to sacrifice for these two important principles. After all, freedom isn't free, as bumper stickers I have seen underscore. As the actions undertaken by our forefathers some 231 years ago remind us, it's important not to allow our principles to cave in, even in the face of seemingly overwhelming pressures. Subsequently, Independence Day means so much more than fireworks and teaches important lessons to us all.