The Heart of Polyamory: Independence Daze
By Millie Jackson
Around the 4th of July, I always find myself thinking a lot about freedom. Freedom, as in having full license and liberty to be our true selves, trusting the power of our individuality and having the strength and courage to stand apart instead of being controlled by outside influences. Self-acceptance is at the heart of emotional wellness and healthy self-expression.
Every year, I use this holiday to assess how freely I am expressing my genuine self. Having never been comfortable in the closet, I am continually expanding the ways that I am visible and vocal as a polyamory activist and member of the LGBTQ community.
How free are you in expressing who you authentically are (not necessarily in regard to your sexuality but in all aspects of your being)? How influenced are you by what someone else has determined to be right, wrong, moral, normal, etc? Are you trying to define yourself within the context of someone else’s antiquated and fear-filled ideologies? Trying to be someone else’s definition of “normal” deprives this world of the gift of our unique and beautiful expressions.
Just because “normal” is “the usual or expected state corresponding with a pattern” does not mean it is necessarily healthy or productive. Having rarely fallen into the category, I am suspicious of that which is considered “normal”. I see how adeptly fear and misunderstanding have been used to manipulate people on behalf of narrow and corrupt agendas for the sake of preserving “tradition”.
I am compelled to be a paradigm shifter because it is obvious to me that much of what is being perpetuated as “normal” and “traditional” isn’t working for the majority of people in this country and are often divisive issues. Monogamy is a great example. I have felt disheartened by the fear-driven attempts to limit the definition of constructs like “family” and “marriage”, and “patriotism” has been taken hostage to justify unprecedented losses to our personal freedoms.
When growth, progress and healing are truly desired, being open to new possibilities and expanding the way we look at things are how positive changes come about. It is difficult to find new solutions to long-standing problems while deeply and perhaps blindly attached to old patterns, definitions and traditions, especially when these are perpetuated tools of confusion, manipulation and division. I am hopeful that the tide is turning in America, and each and every one of us can contribute to productive changes by simply being our authentic selves.
I wonder how many Americans really celebrate their “freedom” on Independence Day and how many really feel “free”. I wonder why contributing to noise and air pollution by mimicking exploding bombs is a way that we are taught to celebrate love and pride for our country. I can’t help but think about the many people who get injured by fireworks, not just minor burns but life-transforming injuries like the loss of eyes, limbs, and hearing. I think about the loss of property and natural resources that are inevitably damaged as a result of fireworks, and how better those assets could have been used. Ironically, these are the same issues I consider in regard to war. If “patriotism” is “love of and devotion to one’s country,” wouldn’t it make more sense to celebrate it in healthier ways for the country and its people?
I wonder if anyone else is struck by the irony of how much gas is being consumed and pollution is being generated across the country during parades in the name of “freedom”, “tradition” and “patriotism”. With our insatiable appetites for oil and duped consumerism running rampant, how free are we really? Through calculated advertising, the choices we are being influenced into making continue to put our country’s and planet’s future in peril. There can be no freedom without breathable air and drinkable water.
If you are censoring your wonderfully unique self, declare your independence! Free yourself from attempts to be controlled and manipulated by those who really don’t have your best interests at heart. Become self-determined; question everything. Define for yourself who you are, what patriotism means, what a family is, what marriage represents, what kind of world you want, and what style of relationships you desire. Discern what your “pursuit of happiness” looks like. Help usher in new paradigms. Do it for yourself, for our country and for our planet. Enjoy the freedom of being yourself. You are the only one who truly can.