On Independence Day
As we head into the Fourth of July weekend, America is in flux. Millions are out of work. Millions more are sick from an infectious disease. Civil unrest rages in many of our cities. Many Americans, including me, are simply exhausted by the first six months of 2020.
As I write this blog on this Independence Day, under these circumstances, what does it mean to me to be an American? It means to me what it always has.
To me, being an American means knowing that each of us, no matter our gender, our race, our orientation, our political ideology, or any other difference is “endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights, among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” We all, as human beings, have value because, as President Kennedy once said, these rights “come not from the generosity of the State but from the Hand of God.”
Because we all have inherent value as human beings, we must treat each other as individuals and resist the tendency we all have to draw conclusions about each other based on groups with which we are associated. Generalizing sure is easy to do: “I’ve met people from this State before, and they all . . . “ “People who drive X car are . . . .” and other generalizations that are far more damaging. When we generalize, we ignore the inherent value each of us has as human beings, and, instead, relegate each other to being pieces of matter that merely occupy the earth.
So, on this Independence Day, I pray that I never forget that America’s greatness comes not from our material wealth or our economic prosperity, although these surely are tangible signs of it. I pray that I always remember that America’s greatness comes from our belief that each of us has value and deserves an equal opportunity in this life.
No one knows what the future holds, and I know I sure don’t. What I do know is this: no matter what the remainder of 2020 brings, America will be just fine.
“[We] know there is a God, and that He hates injustice and slavery. [We] see the storm coming, and [we] know that his hand is in it. If He has a place and work for (us) - and [we] think He has – [we] believe [we are] ready.” -- Abraham Lincoln (quote adapted for this purpose).