Nothing like a couple of weeks spent in a living, breathing colony called Puerto Rico to remember that freedom is not free. Not only do our veterans pay for it, but the people whom we turn into consumers (ourselves included) pay for it every day. While you light your fireworks (made in China), I’ll be thinking about the price of food in Puerto Rico, where my folks have no choice but to buy everything from the U.S., which in turn imported the goods from places like Mexico and China, doubling the transportation costs on every food, clothing and household item. And also contributing to its own trade deficit.

I’ll also be thinking about the illusion of independence in a big country whose bonds are owned mostly by China and Japan (more than 2 trillion in U.S. Treasury bonds). So, while the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) divvy up Texas in return for the trillions we owe them, I’ll hear an empty cacophony of fireworks, advertising jingles and national anthems laced with the faint melody of Lamento Borincano.

I’m thinking we need a new tune. One that sings of interdependence and stewardship rather than mercantilism and consumerism. A song about a sustainable Earth where we grow more food locally and process less imported molasses. Maybe a choir of children who sing about protecting the resources we still have. And share them. Equitably.