Both my blog and my website are blocked in China. I discovered this the last time I was there--two years ago. I've been to China four times. On three of the trips I was able to easily access and update my blog so that people could follow along with our adoption story. But on the last trip, both sites were blocked.
I found out by talking to some IT folks that the sites were probably blocked because I wrote the word China and the firewalls wouldn't let it go through. (And because my IP address originated from outside of China.) One wrong word and both sites were shut down.
On this last trip to China, everything was more tightly controlled. It was a very different country than the one we first visited in 2005. People seemed to be feeling it. Three different times we were approached by people asking us to help them leave the country. That had never happened before.
There's a lot wrong with the United States. Lately, we can't seem to agree on anything. We argue every little thing to death. But the fact that we can argue, that we can speak our mind, shows something very right with our country. 240 years ago, a group of men wrote out their thoughts. They risked their lives so that they could speak their minds. That's a freedom that doesn't exist everywhere.
I write without fear of censorship. We have libraries and schools filled with books written by people of different races, genders, and nationalities--all exercising their unique voice. We can stand on a soapbox and shout our beliefs without fear of government recrimination. I appreciate fireworks, but what I'm truly thankful for is that because I live in the United States, I'm allowed to speak my mind.
Our country was born when Thomas Jefferson put pen to paper and wrote the Declaration of Independence, a document so powerful that its words still ring true today. We might not be perfectly executing those words, but that doesn't lessen their truth.
Today, I celebrate Independence Day by writing, by speaking my mind without fear. Happy birthday, America. Today I celebrate all that is right (and write) with you.