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Here in the United States, over the weekend we celebrated the holiday known as the “Fourth of July.” Oh, wait. It’s actually called Independence Day! And yet for some reason, it’s more colloquially known simply by the date. It’s an important historical date: The anniversary of when the Declaration of Independence was signed. However, in modern times it’s more associated with barbecues and fireworks. For me it was mostly just a day like any other. So while I had Independence Day tea, it wasn’t any different than that of any other day.

As an army brat (child born to someone in the army), I was raised with a very patriotic perspective. Go Army! Go USA! But culturally, we’re no longer all that civic-minded excepting cases of extremism. Which is sad. I was raised with the belief that this is the best country in the world. Which would be awesome, except that it really isn’t. (My elder brother would be so upset if he read this.) I’m not saying we’re the worst. I’m saying that “best” isn’t really a measurement. The more time passes, the more disconnected we are from those around us. Our sense of “community” is getting lost. And that is a great loss and tragedy to us as human beings, as a highly social species.

A tea cup and saucer sit on a wooden table in a thicket of vegetation, expressing independence

Independent tea?

This is one of the things that I love about tea. It brings people together. It promotes a sense of community. Even during the worst of COVID, tea people found a way to still come together. No in-person events? Online tea festivals (such as the Virtual Tea Festival – Presented by Tealet or the 2020 International Virtual Tea Festival)! No friendly get-togethers? Have tea discussions via Zoom (such as John wrote about in Tea Bringing People Together)! It’s been a wonderful thing to observe and be a part of. I have found myself reaching out and communicating more with people virtually over tea than I ever did pre-COVID. I am now all the more excited for tea festivals to resume (once it’s safe to do so), because I have many more tea people that I am eager to meet in person.

Our forebears fought for us to have the right to be “free.” Many still fight for their rights and for equality. The very word “Independence” elicits the idea that we are alone. But despite passing the holiday weekend alone and without celebrating, I still feel like I am connected and part of a community. I think if more people sought community where they could and reconnected with other humans, it would open the gates to more freedoms. Open-hearted communication. Isn’t tea the perfect method by which to do so? I’ll raise a cup with you. Let’s have that common ground.

I hope for independence and community for everyone, no matter in what country you reside.

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