I have, in my distant past, relatives who were actively engaged in the terrorist activities of the 1770's in New England. As was common then, fighting the King and "suppression" was not a unanimous family decision. In my direct line was one of the Sons of Liberty who escaped potential prosecution (and undoubted execution) by the English still governing Massachusetts and Rhode Island. He traveled nearly as far south into the Thirteen Colonies as possible, South Carolina, joining others who thought to continue their fight from there, and set our family tree onto a new course.
The long-distant past of our families is as important as the nearer past. It puts our values in a framework of pride or shame, or a combination of the two. Our sense of self is derived from the stories we know about our families as much as from our personal actions. When we make poor choices, we can look backwards to the more heroic of our tribes, and feeling pride in them, we can be motivated to take a different path, one that will make us proud of ourselves.
The heroic include men and women who fought in wars for our government's purposes; women who were subjected to incarceration and torture for publicly demanding the right to vote; African Americans who intended peaceful marches asking for equal rights under the law; Native Americans who, even in the past few decades, have been killed for protesting illegal acts of the government against them; mothers of all colors who raise honorable, productive children under hardship; fathers who sacrifice their own dreams for those of their offspring; men, women, and children who endure physical and mental disabilities. Heroes, all.
Difficulties in individual lives abound, but we can take pride in how we meet them, and be grateful for the heroes who set examples for us to follow.
I am grateful for the courage and honor shown by recent and long-deceased relatives and by the living ones who continue to show that we all, every one of us, can be remarkably strong in meeting adversity. I appreciate all the professionals who help us learn how to live meaningful lives.
July 4th means something different to everyone. This year, consider its value not just in the violent wrenching of our independence from another country, but in the examples of courage we have to meet our individual adversities.
Happy 4th of July! And thank you for your heroism.
Marilyn Miller, MS, LPC ~ Psychotherapist
...Delighting every day in helping people find peace in their lives, relieving anxiety, depression, and promoting self-care.