In his famous poem, “To the Fourth of July,” Swami Vivekananda writes,
The lakes are opening wide in love
Their hundred thousand lotus-eyes
I’m not a fan of the poem, but I am a fan of those two lines, reminding me not just a land in love with freedom, but a kind of new birth, a people as a new child emancipated. The lakes are swimming with creatures, and some of those creature are people, their eyes in love with their freedoms and their land and their neighbors.
I wonder today whether my second child, who has been in the womb for over 9 months, will be born on the Fourth of July.
Not that it’s significant. The date is wrong, as far as America’s Independence per the signing of the Declaration. Our son’s actual due date happened to fall on the 2nd, the date the Declaration was approved by Congress.
It’s just a silly day, one with excuses to blast fireworks and barbecue more than reflect how glad we are that we aren’t a British colony. Instead, many Americans tend to revel in how much more awesome we apparently are more than everybody else. Not a value I want to teach my kid, so I’ll gladly throw out. I favor humility instead.
And if he is born today, he will be independent from the womb only. He will still cling to his mother to nurse, to be loved and sung to and kissed and kept warm. He needs us. He has no need to be free of that. They say “freedom isn’t free,” but I’d say sometimes freedom has no worth. Some things aren’t worth freeing yourself from, not when it comes to the cost. Having a child who needs us reminds us of that. We are bound to so many things that we need, and so many people who need us. We need ties that bind us together.
It takes a nation to raise a child. And I’m sure not depending on this one. I’m depending on another one within this one. I don’t want to raise an American Baby so much as raise a Godly baby. He will be born a citizen of these ephemeral borders and so a citizen of these ephemeral borders he will be, but beyond that I have no concern for his American-ness. Frankly, I part of me hopes his birthday falls on another day, just so it is not hogged by a flag, a document, and a structure of government that will one day whither.
When you’re expecting a child, the last thought on your mind is independence. Granted, I sometimes think of my independence, and how it will dwindle. I then think of all the no-good father who grasp their own independence like the cowards they are and abandon their children. So today I am occupied with our interdependence, our need to live with and for one another under the one who needs nothing at all from us and yet asks a relationship from us. I have two children who are very dependent. And I’m not yet ready to think of the day when they become independent from their parents.
But as far as America goes, I’ll admit it is a blessing to raise a child in such a land of plenty, of opportunity, of freedom. It comes at a cost, and not just blood. But rather than raise my son to believe in killing enemies to maintain the cost of political freedom, I will teach him the cost in our souls of living for our own personal freedom—from others, from responsibility, from our divine call. I will teach him that freedom isn’t about having more choices, but making the right ones and feeling your soul freed to live well.
If she’s not too busy, I’d like Katy Peery to sing to my newborn baby that he is a firework.
No matter what, all signs point to my second son, as my first, being…….(drumroll please)….
BOOOOOOOORN IN THE USA!!!!!!