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What is Independence?

By Felicia Dye
Updated May 23, 2024
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Independence is an important word for most countries in the world. It means freedom, but to most nations it means more. The freedom they have now did not always exist. For most countries, being independent means they have been released. Before that time, they were usually colonized. Colonization is a system that generally allowed one population to benefit from the often unjust treatment of another population.

To understand the importance of the word independence, it is necessary to have a clear understanding of the word colonization. Many of the world’s countries were colonized before they were independent. This meant that instead of being recognized as lands filled with people who have their own thoughts, beliefs, and plans, these lands were treated as the possessions of other people. The people's lives were dictated by the decisions made by a few strangers in a place that was usually very far away.

Colonization often involved unjust and shameful acts. Foreigners took over land from natives, and when they did, they sometimes used crooked, vicious, and brutal methods. In many cases, the natives were treated as a lower class or were exterminated. Land was divided according to the will of the foreigners who broke up communities and forced people from their homes. The foreigners exploited the land, caused war among the natives, and kept most of them in poverty.

Independence, with regards to a country, means that generally at some point, people decided they were not free. The idea arose because they wanted to be released from the grasp of colonization, but this system of control tended to be a benefit to those with power. As a result, freedom from colonization often involved a lot of violence.

For a country to be independent means it is a nation whose people are recognized collectively. They are identified by the character, morals, and beliefs they have chosen for themselves. An independent country has the right to establish a constitution which outlines it fundamental principles. It has the right to develop its own system of government and to see its own people as the heads of that government. People often gained rights that should never have been denied, such as the right vote and the right to choose a religion.

In most countries, independence is marked by an annual holiday. It is usually observed on the same day every year. Usually, an independence day is recognized as a national holiday resulting in the closing of many public facilities.

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Discussion Comments
By anon301812 — On Nov 06, 2012

What are some of the benchmarks that are required before any country should consider independence?

By JaneAir — On Jun 29, 2011

@SZapper - Yes we are very lucky to live in this great nation. However lets not forget that our nation was founded on colonization.

Even though the European Americans won their freedom from Great Britain in the 1700's the original people who colonized this country did carry out some brutal acts. And these brutal acts, especially against Native Americans, continued long after America became independent.

With independence comes responsibility. We've come far but I think as a nation we do still have a lot to learn.

By SZapper — On Jun 29, 2011

Fourth of July, also known as Independence Day here in the states is my favorite holiday. I love the cookouts, the fireworks, and the parades. And everyone loves a national holiday that means a day off work!

I try not to forget why we're celebrating though. Not every nation in this world is independent and not everyone enjoys the same freedoms we do here in the US. While I'm enjoying the festivities I remember to be grateful for the privileges I enjoy while living in this country.

By NathanG — On Jun 28, 2011

@Mammmood – Yes, I know what you mean. Independence means responsibility. This is true on the individual level as much as it is for an entire nation.

I remember watching the movie “Bicentennial Man.” There’s a point in the film where the android wants to be “free.” He’s a sentient robot, and understands freedom over time from reading books.

When he is finally offered freedom, there are a few awkward moments where he’s not quite sure what to do – as if he doesn’t understand the real implications of his liberty.

He tries to stick around his old hangout, but his owners politely inform him that independence means that you’re really on your own.

That’s the way it is. I think it’s a lesson people learn over time, however.

By Mammmood — On Jun 28, 2011

Independence is a great idea. Every country says they want independence, but not every nation understands the consequences of being free. After Indonesia got rid of the Soeharto regime for example, people were happy – for a moment.

Afterwards, however, many people didn’t know what to do. I know, because I lived there during that time. Soeharto, for all his evils, was a benevolent dictator.

After freedom, however, comes responsibility. Many people who had been living on the dole now had to find jobs, fend for themselves, and work hard. I don’t believe that many people were ready for the consequences of that freedom.

That type of thing happens all over the globe in countries that are finally free after years of oppression. Everyone should realize that with freedom come new found responsibilities. Some are ready for it; others aren’t.

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