ALPERN AT LARGE--Happy Belated Independence Day!
"Freedom" and "Independence" are terms that are thrown around rather frequently, and perhaps mean different things to different people. Like it or not, however, the expression "freedom isn't free" still holds true in our nation, particularly with requirements from taxation to jury duty to a host of responsibilities tied to the term "American citizen".
Still, with so many of us pointing fingers that "that" politician or "that" civic leader or "that" celebrity as the cause for our own problems, perhaps it's time to REALLY focus on the requirements of what makes me, you, and our neighbors free and independent...or perhaps not:
1) If you rely on any one given news source for your information of what's going on, you are NOT free or independent (this is true for either side of the political aisle, or any sort of political leanings).
2) If you are not actively working to become financially literate and/or financially independent (unless you are physically or otherwise disabled, which is sometimes the unfortunate reality), you are NOT free or independent.
3) If you are under the psychological control (not just influence, but control) of any given family member, political leader, civic leader, or other human being, you are NOT free or independent.
4) If you are unduly and/or excessively controlled by the influence of any illegal drug, alcohol, mind-influencing medication, food, or other potential addiction, you are NOT free or independent (this one might hit home to a bunch of us).
5) If you are unable to live around, and hear the views of others, with different opinions and perspectives than your own, you are NOT free or independent.
6) If you are unable to maintain a civil and reasonable tone, and open mind, when discussing personal, political, or other key issues with those with whom you interact, you are NOT free or independent (perhaps that hits home to a bunch of us, too, including yours truly).
7) If you are unable to find beauty, love, humor and joy in life, you are NOT free or independent.
8) If you are unable to cherish the rights, and cherish the responsibilities, that it takes to be one's own man, or one's own woman, you are NOT free or independent.
9) If you are not able to fight for your own freedom of speech, while also fighting for the freedom of speech for others who have entirely opposite points of view than your own, you are NOT free or independent.
10) Finally, as an American citizen, if you do not grasp and fight for the knowledge of history, civics, legal obligations, and constitutional realities available and required in our amazing nation, you are absolutely, positively, undeniably, and anything BUT free or independent in this greatest nation (for all its flaws) on this amazing planet.
A belated Happy July Fourth to you all, and I wish you all an Independence Day-filled year and a "glass half full" to celebrate all that you have been, all that you have become, and all that you will someday be!
(Kenneth S. Alpern, M.D. is a dermatologist who has served in clinics in Los Angeles, Orange, and Riverside Counties, and is a proud husband and father to two cherished children and a wonderful wife. He is also a Westside Village Zone Director and Board member of the Mar Vista Community Council (MVCC), previously co-chaired its Planning and Outreach Committees, and currently is Co-Chair of its MVCC Transportation/Infrastructure Committee. He was co-chair of the CD11 Transportation Advisory Committee and chaired the nonprofit Transit Coalition and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. He also co-chairs the grassroots Friends of the Green Line at www.fogl.us. The views expressed in this article are solely those of Dr. Alpern.)