Visit my show at the PSCCU Credit Union, Vashon, Washington May, June 2024 

Freedom’s Not Just Another Word

On the Fourth of July in the United States we celebrate freedom. That is if anyone stops to think about it.

Our “Independence Day” is mostly a time of picnics and fireworks, and too often, a lot of noise.

I call it the “National Day of Terror” for animals and usually skip the fireworks to comfort my pets.

I wish valuing independence could also include respecting our impact on others.

Offering an alternative: “National Immigrants Day”

One group that does seem to think about freedom is new immigrants.

Which is why I’m proposing switching July 4th to “National Immigrants Day.”

Maybe we could learn something from people who made tough choices to come to the United States, with its warts, opportunities and not-fulfilled-yet aspirations.

National Immigrants Day would be for all us, including the native peoples who probably migrated from somewhere else a very long time ago.

On National Immigrants Day we could celebrate the courage and resilience it takes to come to a new land and begin again. We could draw strength from the stories of others.

We could explore and highlight the different cultures, traditions, and foods, that exist within this country.

We could celebrate the smallest, most, underrepresented groups and learn more about them.

We could eat something better than hot dogs.“Freedom” by Jon Batiste

“Freedom” with a joyful beat

Before my proposal for a name change is accepted, I’m looking for better ways to celebrate “Freedom”  than fireworks. I found one in this Grammy-award-winning video by Jon Batiste.

When you watch him dance, it looks like he doesn’t have a care in the world. But before his performance at the 2022 Grammys (where he took home an incredible FIVE “Best of” awards), his wife received the devastating news that her cancer had returned.

“Freedom” doesn’t mean you get everything just the way you want it.

Jon didn’t stop singing and his wife, writer Suleika Jaouad, didn’t stop creating. Sometimes she paints from her hospital bed when she’s in treatment. You can read about her creative journeys and how she supports others—even from the hospital—in “The Isolation Journals” on Substack. The tag line: “Transforming Life’s Interruptions into Creative Grist.”

Jon and Suleika are both heroes to me—people who can carry the burden of sadness and uncertainty with mindful hope—while pouring out love to others.

Like many immigrants.

Because at its core “Freedom” is not just another word for nothing else to lose. (Sorry, Bobby Mcgee.)

It’s about how we carry ourselves and others.

It lives in the choices we make to pursue our stars while lighting up paths for others.

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