Independence and Slavery: The July Blog Chain topic.
July is kind of an odd month here in Utah. We celebrate not only Independence Day, the day our country severed all ties with the English, but we also celebrate Pioneer Day.
For those who don’t know, Pioneer day is Utah’s (and maybe Idaho’s) celebration of their ancestors crossing the plains. Salt Lake City was founded by the Mormons, or the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, as a haven away from the persecution they found each time they tried to settle down in a city.
But this gave me a thought. Though our pioneer ancestors gave us the freedom to practice our religion relatively undisturbed, do we make ourselves slaves to their sacrifice? Do we enslave ourselves to our religion for their benefit, because we feel like we owe it to them for the great work they accomplished? Or do we do it because it gives us security that our pioneer ancestors never had?
Please don’t misunderstand what I am saying. I am a devout LDS member and firmly believe many LDS doctrines, but our fascination with our pioneer ancestors truly baffles me. I’ve never felt as passionate about the holiday and traditions surrounding that remembrance as many in the church do. I think this relates to the fact that I have no pioneer ancestors, my grandmother was the first in our family to convert and the pioneers came in the mid 1800’s.
But this observance of traditions celebrates freedom while at the same time showing symptoms of enslavement. We feel obligated to remember these great people and that sense of obligation can be binding and sometimes enslaving to those who don’t understand the reasons behind them.
Our country is going through one of the most split times I can remember. There is a fight for security and freedom: some fight for one or the other, but some fight for both. Until we decide as a country whether we want security or freedom, there will be many problems and divisions between it’s people. That division, like the one that drove these pioneers out to seek refuge, is one of the most enslaving things I see before me. We claim to seek freedom, yet we cannot even begin to pursue it without finger pointing or trying to prove who is right and who is not.
The Mormon Pioneers sought freedom to practice their beliefs. Many who have come before us have given their lives for our freedom. I don’t think we should let that make our decision, but I do think we should keep in mind that if so many have chosen freedom over security, maybe they know what they are doing.