Every Fourth of July I watch the 1996 film, Independence Day. Not just because I love sci-fi or because I love a good disaster film, but mainly because of one of its central messages … universal freedom.
As I write these words, my heart prays. Not just to give thanks for the freedoms I have, but that such a thing as universal freedom exists; for if it does not, then many brave souls may have died for nothing.
And I won’t accept that. No. I WILL NOT GO QUIETLY INTO THE NIGHT!
I also pray that someone’s reading these words, not just from the U.S., but from somewhere else, perhaps even a country that may be fighting for more freedoms.
Because as an artist, I know that freedom to think is not enough … not in this crazy thing we call life. Art is freedom to think AND freedom to express. That is universal freedom.
An old friend of mine, Sheldon Burke, said, “Art is recession proof.” Well, I will argue more than that. I will argue that art is inextinguishable.
Think about it.
Whatever country you live in, you have the freedom of art. You can watch a bird perched on a limb serenading a sunset and you might say, “That’s beautiful. I wish I could paint that.” Or maybe you’re a painter, and you paint it.
You may listen to the rhythm of the wind and say, “I can hear time. I wish I could beat out your song on a drum.” Or maybe you’re a drummer, and you do.
You may watch your wife braid her hair and say, “That’s amazing. I wish my fingers could tango with one another like that.” Or maybe you’re a composer, and you compose a tango.
Or, if you’re one who sees art in any of its infinite forms, but cannot express it freely, then, I say, you may not possess universal freedom. You may not even be able to read these words.
It is for you that I, we, celebrate today. It is for you.
Hear this poem of universal freedom in your thoughts. Feel it in your heart. Hold it within your soul. For until we ALL have such liberty, I contend celebrations of our freedom must, and will, go on … for the whole world to hear.
Do not go quietly into the night,
until you’ve heard that quartet of angels,
in the rustle of freedom’s flight.
Do not ever surrender the dawn,
until you’ve felt the weight of innocence,
in a child’s morning yawn.
Do not fold your broken wing,
until you’ve watched a quilt of nations,
joined in one cause, unstoppably, sing.
Happy Fourth of July.
Yours in literature,