There’s just something magical about the word “Independence.”
It can mean so many things to so many people, and the word always plays a mental ballet in my head every July 4th. I think about the sacrifices made by those before us to grant us independence from tyranny, and those who followed to blaze their own trails and clear the way for future generations. Because, you see, the independence that was forged by those who signed the Declaration of Independence went far beyond simply escaping the rule of England. It also went to personal independence.
They envisioned a world where individuals were free to speak their minds, to elect their governing officials, to have an equal a voice with the next person and to practice their religious beliefs without fear of retribution or punishment. They created a truly free society, and though many people have problems with some of the laws society has created, the pure essence of individual freedom still rings loudly today.
And we have much to be thankful for in that regard.
Even though the world has undoubtedly become a smaller place in terms of advances in communication, there are many corners of the world where people do not enjoy personal liberties. Now, don’t get me wrong. I personally don’t believe in the “Americanization” of the globe, where we push our beliefs and values on other cultures. I enjoy the vastly different ways that people and governments go about their day-to-day activities. However, I do feel empathy toward people who can’t at least make their own decisions as to how they choose to lead their own personal lives.
For instance, a recent Reuters story reported that the Chinese government has banned troops from online dating because they could reveal sensitive information to crafty Internet women. In response to this, the China Daily News reported that military commanders are studying how to help single service members find love. According to that story, members of the People’s Liberation Army are working with local government offices and the Communist Party’s women’s federation to find true love for the soldiers. In addition to that romantic notion, a paramilitary police officer in Hainan has organized a party for unmarried soldiers to meet women working at the local China Mobile branch.
A couple of thoughts ...
Well, actually, before I go into that, let’s take a look at the justification given for the ban on online dating from the Chinese government.
“People with ulterior motives may make use of the soldiers’ personal information and pose a threat to the safety of the army,” said Yang Jigui, an officer in Tibet, according to the People’s Liberation Army Daily.
Well, that makes sense. It’s not like spies would work their way into the Communist party, or Chinese military or a local restaurant, where soldiers might actually meet them. No, the bigger threat is BambiFlower08 in Tuscaloosa who is actually a South Korean intelligence officer.
Make no mistake. This is just another way of the government in that nation exerting control and power over its subjects. It’s just as much about matchmaking people who follow their lead as it is about keeping spies away from the soldiers. Trust me, the average soldier in every military operation knows just enough to know where to stand in the morning. Nothing else.
Even if they wanted to go on Twitter with troop formations or supply routes, they don’t know anything. It’s how the thing works. Shoot, there were times in the Marine Corps when I didn’t even know where we were headed while I was on a bus going there. Of course, I would always hope that it would be a field trip to an International House of Pancakes or the movies ...
But I digress.
Get out this July 4th and toss away political affiliations and just enjoy being American. Wave a flag. Gaze at the fireworks. And drop a line to BambiFlower08. She now has nobody to talk to, with 2.3 million Chinese soldiers off her buddy list.