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Dr. Mardy's Quotes of the Week

A Weekly Celebration of Great Quotes in History and the History Behind the Quotes

July 2-8, 2023 | This Week's Theme: "Independence"

Happy Independence Day!

After the members of the Second Continental Congress approved and signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776, John Adams wrote about the occasion in a letter to his wife Abigail: "I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding Generations as the great anniversary Festival." A moment later, he went on to add:

"It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade,
with Shows, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and
Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other
from this Time forward forever more."

Reading these words, one might describe Adams as remarkably prescient—except for one small detail: he was talking about July 2, 1776, when the document was approved and signed, and not July 4th, when it was formally adopted by the Continental Congress. For the remainder of his life, Adams considered the Second of July to be America's true Independence Day, and he was so miffed when the Fourth became the accepted holiday that he refused to participate in any celebrations on that date for the remainder of his life.

Opening Line of the Week

"Lieutenant Dunbar wasn’t really swallowed.
But that was the first word that stuck in his mind."

These are the opening words of Dances with Wolves (1988), by Michael Blake, born July 5, 1945.

These intriguing opening words attempt to capture the emotional experience of U. S. Army Lieutenant John Dunbar when, in the 1860s, he first witnessed the vastness of the American frontier, now known as The Great Plains. About that moment, the narrator continued:

“Everything was immense.
The great, cloudless sky. The rolling ocean of grass.
Nothing else, no matter where he put his eyes.
No road. No trace of ruts for the big wagon to follow.
Just sheer, empty space. He was adrift.
It made his heart jump in a strange and profound way.”

In 1990, the novel was adapted into a film directed by and starring Kevin Costner (it was his directorial debut). A critical as well as a commercial success, it was the fourth-highest grossing film of 1990. Nominated for 12 Academy Awards, it won seven (including Best Picture and Best Director). It also became the second Western in film history (after Cimarron in 1931) to win the Best Picture Oscar.

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This Week's Puzzler

On July 2, 1778, this man died at age 66 in Ermenonville, in northern France. At his death, he was already being regarded as one of history's greatest thinkers, making historic contributions in the fields of philosophy and education.

Born in Switzerland in 1712, his mother died of fever nine days after his birth. He and his older brother were raised by his father, a watchmaker, and a paternal aunt. Even though he was clearly precocious (reading Plutarch's Lives at age ten, for example), he was an unambitious lad who drifted through life until his mid-thirties. In 1749, he won First Place in an essay contest sponsored by the Dijon Academy. The experience ignited a great flame of intellectual activity that ultimately made him one of history's most influential thinkers.

This week's Mystery Man is now best remembered for the 1762 classic The Social Contract, which inspired many of America's Founding Fathers. The book contains perhaps the greatest opening line in the history of non-fiction:

"Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains."

In 1762, he also came out with the novel Emile, a classic in the history of educational thought. The book, which he described as "the best and most important of all my writings," has a striking contemporary relevance, even though written more than 250 years ago. It includes a number of memorable quotations, including this one:

"To conquer Fortune and everything else,
begin by independence."

Who is this person? (Answer below)

This Week's Theme:
"Are You an Independent, Self-Reliant Person?"

People thinking about the word independence commonly focus on the political meaning of the term. After all, the primary definition in The American Heritage Dictionary is a nation that is "not governed by a foreign power; self-governing."

The term also has an important personal and psychological meaning, though, and it shows up nicely in the AHD's secondary definition: "Free from the influence, guidance, or control of another or others; self-reliant."

As you celebrate Independence Day this week, think about this more personal meaning of the word. Do you view yourself as an independent person, and would you say that you have lived an independent, self-reliant life? Don't respond too quickly, though, because many people who answer "yes" to the question could be more accurately described as dependent or co-dependent.

For example, many people who consider themselves independent have a literal dependency on drugs, alcohol, pornography, sex, or gambling. Countless others exhibit a co-dependency with tyrannical parents, controlling spouses or lovers, cultish religious leaders, and authoritarian politicians. When pathological controllers like this say "black is white" or "up is down," the co-dependents completely stifle the natural human aversion to mistruth by saying, essentially, "If you say so, I am willing to believe that what is false is true."

So, to return to the question of the week, would you describe yourself as an independent, self-reliant person who is able to think for yourself? Before you answer, take a few moments to peruse this week's quotations on the theme:

"Independence is happiness."


"It is in the nature of a group and its power to turn
against independence, the property of individual strength."


"I'll walk where my own nature would be leading:
It vexes me to choose another guide."


"Co-dependence [is] taking someone else's temperature
to see how you feel."


"The first of earthly blessings, independence."


"There is no support so strong
as the strength that enables one to stand alone."


"If you are not your own agent, you are someone else's."


"Dependency invites encroachment."


"The best kind of leader:
one who creates independence, not dependence."



"Independence I have long considered as
the grand blessing of life, the basis of every virtue."


For source information on these quotations, and others on the subject of INDEPENDENCE, visit my DMDMQ.

Puzzler Answer

Jean-Jacques Rousseau

My Thought of the Week

"It is one of life's great ironies that people who
most stridently proclaim their independence are little more
than puppets of the people or forces controlling them."

Until next week,