by Eleyah Knight

July 4th marks a holiday celebrated by Americans for 240 years. It is considered a day of independence, freedom, liberty, democratic principles, fireworks, family, and parties. A majority of Americans participate in celebrating these concepts in honoring those who “fought for our freedom,” the brave soldiers who died in wars, and those who continue to serve our country. Though it seems to be so noble to honor these people who made tremendous sacrifices doing what they believe was best for our country, I feel it’s imperative to bring to light those who are never honored by mainstream American society or acknowledged during this holiday, or ever for that matter. These are the people who have and are paying the price for our freedom right now. They are the humans and animals who were and are still wiped out in masses for resources commonly overused, wasted, and taken for granted by millions here in this “land of the free.” When we honor our vets, soldiers, leaders, and others who have served this country, how many of us also consider honoring all the lives lost or economies destroyed over 240 years of American colonialism and greed?

There is a term used in our modern age called “neocolonialism,” which succinctly describes America’s relationship with the countries that have become “third world” because of its exploitative processes. Many of us have no idea how many organizations are profiting off of “charitable” donations we make, believing we are helping poor countries, when in fact we are contributing to unwanted surpluses being dumped into economies that would be much better off if they were left alone to make these products locally.

Can any of us imagine how resource rich the continent of Africa is? Africans would have been the richest people in the world if it weren’t for foreign powers taking control of their mines, forests, and giving their corrupt government dictators incentives for exploiting their people in the process. By celebrating the freedom of our country with our fireworks and parties, we are also celebrating the slavery of billions of lives that we cannot even fathom.

But, aren’t there those that want to hurt us and take away this freedom? Isn’t that what the military is for, to protect us? We have been indoctrinated by our American culture, from news media to history textbooks, to believe that there is a big enemy or terrorists out to get us to take away our freedom. What we haven’t been taught is at the core of this “freedom,” and it’s what our countrymen are still killing innocent lives for. Do you want to know what we have that’s free?

We have the ability to close our eyes and not acknowledge how others are suffering for us to have the luxuries that we can dispose of after something else new and exciting comes around. We can turn our heads from the horror stories of the brutality of U.S. funded wars over oil resources in the Middle East that have bred the very terrorist groups that our government tells us we must fear. We can keep living like fossil fuel will never run out because we see gas stations everywhere and new sports cars and SUVs and trucks that are just so stylish and fun to drive, so why not upgrade to that new model when we can simply take out a loan for it? We can keep filling up our car with gas without seeing the blood of innocent lives coming out of the pumps or the faces of Middle Eastern children, who are being tortured by dictatorships and terrorists who are only getting more brutal because of this “peak oil” crisis that we don’t have to know anything about, as long as we can keep getting our gas and cheap fossil fuel-made plastic cars and objects.

We can keep living like there are endless resources on this planet because we always see lines and lines of shelves full of products- wonderful, colorful, new and improved products- always being made better and more exciting! We can keep living like it isn’t possible to eliminate all the rainforest to make more cattle farms to feed the ever growing demand for meat and dairy products that we must have in our daily diet, because we just can’t live off of rice and cornmeal 3 times a day like the millions of farmers that we are unfairly buying these meat and dairy products from. We can keep living like there aren’t animals species that are becoming extinct every day, because who needs them anyways if we can’t use their bodies or their labor for our benefit? We can keep living like new technologies will save us from our ignorance and carelessness and man-made chemicals and synthetic medicine will cure the cancers that they created in the first place.

We can just accept that our politicians can force children to be shot up with 69 doses of toxic chemicals before they are adults in order to attend any social institutions and turn a blind eye to the hundreds of thousands who have chronic diseases now because of this unnatural attack on their immune systems. We can do this because we are American. We are FREE. We are BRAVE. We are UNITED. But who can honestly tell me when the last time these three words resonated with their feelings about this country? The presidential election controversy happening this year can answer that in a flash.

Let’s take a look at this magnificent word “freedom” once again….

Could freedom be choosing what substances go into our bodies? I would surely say so. Could freedom be choosing what substances are injected our children’s bodies? I couldn’t agree more. Could freedom be choosing what our tax money is funding? Undoubtedly. Ironically, as Americans, all 3 of these “freedoms” must be vigilantly fought for today, because our government and the corporations that run it do NOT want the people of this country to have these choices, AKA our natural rights. Whether dictating which chemicals are being dumped in our air, to which genetically modified scientific experiments are being sold in our food, America’s most powerful corporations are doing whatever they can so we don’t have a say in these agendas.

How about all those nasty wars over resources that have been making third world countries what they are today? Well, how do we control whether our tax dollars are funding the unethical extraction of these resources, distributed to covert military operations or corporate cover-ups? Seriously, if anyone has the answer to this, please let me know. I would really like to find out how I can direct my own tax dollars. I believe that through my own personal actions, I can contribute to a new, revolutionary model of living, one that redefines what American freedom means to me.

As an American, I acknowledge my privileges and express gratitude for the life I was born into. I try my best to instill this attitude of mindful appreciation into my children and encourage them to think deeply into every product they use, food they eat, and experience they have in order to truly understand why their lives are so blessed. I am working hard every day to be more educated and conscious about my lifestyle and the choices that I make that are impacting the world around me.

I buy nothing but organic food. It’s not impossible, trust me. I just bought a hybrid car so I won’t have to go to the pump very often to visualize the horrific Middle Eastern oil wars (yes, I do, and I say a prayer for those involved every time I fill up). I am graduating from a school of natural medicine so I can help people find ways of letting their bodies heal themselves rather than always turning to doctors and poisonous pharmaceuticals for answers to problems that can be solved in the long term from changes in diet, lifestyle, and herbal supplementation when needed. I am starting to homeschool my kids soon so they can pursue their passions through what and how they want to learn, while spending more valuable time as their most important and first teacher in their lives. I am actively involved in health freedom groups and started a March Against Monsanto Santa Cruz group to implement my activism projects that promote social awareness, environmental healing, and bring together others in the community that are concerned about the toxic lifestyles that have been imposed upon our society.

There are many little steps I took and am still taking to this path of Earth renewal, some as seemingly small as using reusable bags when shopping 100% of the time, only wearing make-up once every few months, using the most natural cleaning products, doing laundry every other week, living in a community household and sharing a room with my kids, donating my time and money to an international volunteer project once a year (for the past 2 years), and continually researching ways that I can be a better first world citizen who has unwillingly and unknowingly gained materially from the poverty of others. I have a long ways to go before I feel that my life isn’t contributing to any suffering, but I know it will be possible someday. I believe that I can balance out this karma with other actions I take in my life and can inspire others to do the same. I know that one day, I will live on land that supports me and other families, grow a majority of my own food or buy it from local organic farmers, live off of only sustainable products that benefit a local economy, and will witness mankind’s inevitable transition to a mindful, caring society.

Life is an interconnected process of vast variables. Each form of life has an intricate purpose that affects others, whether intentionally or not. This is simply written in the laws of nature, laws that cannot ever be replicated or fully understood by even the greatest thinkers, scientists, mathematicians, or spiritual leaders of humanity. Scientific laws are manmade, subjected to inevitable flaws, and have been used to dominate, control, and attempt to over-ride nature. Nature is eternally resilient though. I believe there are endless ways that we can reflect this resilience in ourselves and live by what our personal and spiritual definition of FREEDOM means to us and the health of the world around us that we are inseparable from.

Eleyah Knight is a single mother of two children, ages seven and five, and a full-time graduate student of Traditional Chinese Medicine. She lives in Santa Cruz, California. She has spent several years studying natural parenting, culture, and medicine. Traveling around the states and learning from homeless travelers has given her valuable, humble perspectives. Involvement in international volunteer work, organizing a local “March Against Monsanto” group, and working hard on various community awareness and transformative projects have been her most recent adventures. 

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