Vail Daily column: The audacity of independence
Today means something particular for each American.
To some, it is an excuse to imbibe that ill-advised third hot dog. Trauma surgeons may mark the day by reattaching more fingers than on a usual shift. The politically inclined will bend the symbols of the day to their specific viewpoint, regardless of where their beliefs fall upon the spectrum.
To me, July 4th marks a historical event that transcends history. It is a yearly celebration of the triumph of audacity over the spectre of complacency; a time to marvel at the daring exhibited by those for whom inaction was an unpalatable option.
Make Our Wildest Dreams come true
Rather than being another way to polarize our populace, Independence Day should inspire us all to do better, to be better, to make our wildest dreams into the unlikeliest of realities.
About 240 years ago, a bunch of white dudes got together and formalized their collective view that they had been subject to being subjects for too long. Men from different backgrounds and geographies banded together in defiance of oppression and in furtherance of the possibilities of democratic principles.
They debated, they cajoled, they compromised, they thought, they probably drank a lot, but still they persisted with a mammoth task. Through the distance of centuries, we can see the irony that these same men saw no issues with subjugating women, or slaves or the poor. We can understand that, at least for some of the Founders, the break from England was governed less by patriotism or humanism than by economic self-interest.
These hedges notwithstanding, there is no denying the sheer cojones necessary to put one’s life and livelihood on the line in order to push for a new order.
Our individual challenges may not be as momentous as starting an entire country from the castoffs of an empire. Perhaps one is seeking literal independence from a boorish spouse or a maniacal boss. Or, one is looking to lose some weight or shave minutes off their 5K time.
The inspiration of Thomas Jefferson or Button Gwinnett (great name) may be the necessary kick needed to put those processes into motion. If these men could thumb their noses at King George III with the very real possibility of a public hanging for their troubles, then it puts the consequences of your action into the proper context. It may be hard, grueling even, but no less difficult than suffering through the torture of doing nothing. Under the influence of our Founding Fathers, you really have no choice but to simply go for it.
Your goal may be one seemingly more intractable. Your eyes may be aflame with revolution. Mine certainly are. As an attorney and reformer seeking to shift the conflict resolution paradigm from adversarial litigation to cooperative mediation, I am often overcome by the monumental undertaking in front of me.
Modern-day dreamers, activists, thinkers and entrepreneurs face similar moments of dread, but take solace in the example of those that came before them. Just as we may look to Martin Luther King Jr. or Steve Jobs or the Stonewall Inn crew for more recent instances of audacious leadership, those figures looked backwards at their own heroes, inspired by their bold steps. For an American, our history begins with those men that began the often rocky journey of our country’s development.
To forge one’s own path; to do what is in one’s heart, to be daring in our actions, that is the lesson that we can take from Independence Day. But, the work of our forebears took place in a different time, when popular ideas did not account for inclusiveness or tolerance. If we use the example of the Framers in a literal way, then we do not give humanity credit for its ability to evolve, adapt and understand the perspectives of a disparate population. We will repeat the mistakes that they made, the progress that they forestalled, the communities that they decimated. Experience is as powerful as inspiration and relying on one to the exclusion of the other results in a hopelessly incomplete endeavor.
The fireworks that illuminate this night are indicative of the energy that the lessons of this day promise. The gatherings of friends and family instill in us the importance of being supported by community as we pursue our passions. And the pictures of 18th century dandies in powdered wigs hobnobbing in sweltering rooms, in addition to reminding us that fashion is fickle, humble us with remembrance of the risks that we must take to reap the ultimate rewards.
Have a happy and safe Fourth, everyone.
T.J. Voboril is a partner at Reynolds, Kalamaya & Voboril LLC, a local law firm, and the owner and mediator at Voice of Reason Dispute Resolution. For more information, contact Voboril at 970-306-6456, email@example.com or please visit http://www.rkvlaw.com.