It’s my birthday again. It happens every year, on July 8th, whether I like it or not. And as I always do, I’ve spent some time reflecting over the past year. Personally, and professionally, it’s been another year fully lived. Now that the Health Industrial Complex has allowed us to travel (mostly) freely, Matt Kibbe and I have been back on the road, meeting with our investors and giving talks IN PERSON! There is nothing better than connecting with liberty-curious young people eager to learn about alternatives to authoritarianism. We’ve given talks to hundreds of people all over the world, from Miami to Nashville to Lancaster, New Hampshire, and even Prague and Tbilisi this past spring. We premiered our latest documentary, The Free Life: Portrait of An Artist in front of a sold-out audience at the Atlas Network’s Latin America Liberty Forum in Mexico City last month. There was not a dry eye in the house, which is always a good indication that we are striking the right emotional chords.
But, as a country, it’s been a really bad year. It’s hard to imagine a more perfect storm of bad economic policies over the last 3 years. I hadn’t heard the word “stagflation” since I was a little girl growing up in the late 1970s. This economic pain, coupled with a political class that loves to keep Americans fighting with one another, has left our country more divided than ever. And the freedoms that we all hold so dear seem to be taken from us, bit by bit, day after day.
I really felt this pain on Independence Day, when I saw many people on social media, even friends, railing against celebrating my second favorite holiday. (I mean, there’s no Christmas trees in July.) Some folks had decided that they just didn’t feel like celebrating what this country is becoming.
I call bullshit on this toxic cynicism. America is still the very best country, hands down. Matt said it best in response to the haters on social media:
I don’t celebrate the government on Independence Day. I celebrate the radical ideal of individual independence from state oppression embodied in the Spirit of ’76. I love that idea, and it’s worth fighting for, maybe more so as our politicians continue to fail the test.
I was reminded of this simple truth while Matt and I sat on the mall by the Washington Monument watching the fireworks on the 4th. We were surrounded by people from all walks of life, all backgrounds, many of them immigrants, chanting “USA! USA!” There’s a powerful story here, one we tell in the documentary we just screened in Mexico City. The Free Life is about the journey of Carlos Luna, who decided to flee the oppression of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro when he was just 20 years old. “Americans have the opportunity to grow up and live in liberty,” he tells us in the film. “I never felt free, totally, in my life, before I lived here. I understand the country has a lot of problems. What country doesn’t have problems? But if you ask me what other country do you suggest to live? Again, USA. United States is my home. It’s my country. It’s my house. It’s my kingdom. It’s my family.”
Sometimes it takes an immigrant willing to risk everything for freedom to remind all of us that the idea of America IS worth fighting for.