A post from visiting writer Cliff Kroski. He teaches philosophy and pastors the Community of the Incarnation.
On the first Sunday in July, we celebrate the 4th of July, Independence Day.
As we reflect on this day and celebrate this day, people will watch parades and have cookouts, watch and/or light fireworks, waive the flag and sing, “God Bless America.”
I am always struck when seeing a bumper sticker on Sundays in the Unity Temple parking lot: “God Bless All Nations.” Yes, as Americans we live in a special country with far more opportunities than most people have in so many other countries. Yes, we are proud of the United States, but do we have the “market cornered” on God’s blessing?
At ball games and sporting events we stand for the “Star Spangled Banner.” Now, in many ballparks during the 7th inning stretch, people stand and sing, “God Bless America.” I am very uncomfortable with this custom. It smacks too much of what I mentioned above, God’s blessing belongs on the United States and no one else.
Words like freedom and independence will be spoken a lot these days. People will honor our Revolutionary War ancestors and call them patriots. May we not forget that being called a patriot depends on which “side of the fence” one belongs. To the
British, our patriots were traitors; and if they were caught they would have been hung as traitors.
Can we as nation truly celebrate freedom and independence when words like Democrat, Republican, Conservative, and Liberal are battle cries and judgments in some people’s minds? Can we celebrate freedom when one person shouts down another person’s opinion when it does not conform to his or her own opinion? Can we celebrate freedom when segments of our society are treated with prejudice and disdain and not allowed to exercise their own freedoms (gay men and women, the elderly, the poor, the handicapped, etc.) Can we celebrate freedom when, thanks to the “Patriot Act” and “Homeland Security,” we have racial profiling against men and women of Mid-Eastern descent?
Benjamin Franklin once wrote, “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”
Can we celebrate freedom when unfair and prejudiced Immigration Laws are put into place? Many of these illegal immigrants work in our packing plants and as farm laborers for very little money under poor working conditions. They are imported by the same companies who abuse them. It is curious to me that many people who cry for tougher immigration laws do not complain about cheap prices due to cheap laborer.
The pedestal of the Statue of Liberty reads:
“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me.
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
Only when we celebrate cultural and sexual diversity, understanding, compassion and tolerance, and acceptance of an opposite opinion, will we ever truly be independent and free.
Happy 4th of July! May God bless all nations!