The Fourth of July.
As part of our national narrative, we have an entire mythos ingrained into our collective conscious, such as the midnight ride of Paul Revere and a flag sewn by Betsy Ross. We venerate admired leaders as well as recall countless stories of bravery and sacrifice. It was an honorable cause for freedom, justice, recognition, representation and dignity. We've read and heard the rousing words that put a tear in our eye, a lump in our throats and swell our hearts.
“These are the times that try men's souls.”
“Give me liberty, or give me death…”
“I have not yet begun to fight.”
“I am not a Virginian, but an American!”
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."
“Oh say can you see…”
It took a horrible, devastating war for this country to gain the independence we celebrate. Seeking liberty and independence cost the lives of many brave individuals.
In the end, the conflict re-defined the identify of nation.
America was born!
It’s a day that traditionally contains a odd mixture of everything from singing the national anthem to fireworks to hosting a barbecue. With hot dogs, of course.
Banks are closed and mail delivery is suspended, but retail establishments tout significant seasonal savings, as if our separation from England demands lower prices on appliances, clothing, grills and automobiles.
Many Americans will fly their flag proudly, as a symbol of their patriotism and national heritage.
However, I’m struck with conflicting emotions.
I am not inclined to celebrate.
I'm in mourning because I happen to believe my country is sick, possibly dying.
It’s not that I don’t value the contributions of those who gave their all for us…for me…to be where we are today as a country.
But instead of national pride, I feel shame. And anger. And fear.
These crushing emotions overshadow any sense of patriotism.
While others might reflect on the many liberties given to us by our victory in the War for Independence, I’m concerned about a different war going on in our country—one intent on abolishing many of our hard-fought freedoms. The United States of America was founded on the idea that we are all created equal. The pledge we learned as children, expressing our allegiance to the principles of our country, remind us with the words “liberty and justice for all.”
But I see a President and administration working diligently to undermine or forsake those ideals.
- The man in the highest office of this nation exhibits no virtue, no honor, no humility. He demands blind allegiance from those around him, yet exhibits no reciprocal loyalty himself. Beyond empty rhetoric and snappy campaign slogans, he has no training, no experience and no actual strategy to lead our country. He demeans those who criticize him, and refuses to admit when he’s shown to be wrong (which is often), choosing to blame others. He is self-absorbed, devoid of character and unworthy of respect. From all mental and psychological evidence, he’s a disturbed, unstable individual with delusions of grandeur. He's an authoritarian demagogue, with aspirations of domination that are contrary to all the principles envisioned by our Original Founders. The War for Independence was fought to escape the tyrant of such a capricious, uncaring ruler.
- Instead of “self-evident truths,” we have a constant stream of Presidential lies, usually in malicious spurts of 140 characters, then defended or explained by a host of mindless sycophants. (Or worse, celebrated by his supremacist followers.)
- This current government is committed to imposing tests for religious purity on citizens. They want to exclude and expel people from our country, based on religion. They plan to legislate for discrimination, based solely on religious beliefs. In essence, one form of religious beliefs will be honored, esteemed and protected, while other beliefs will be dismissed. That is nothing less than governmental adoption of a national religion. All of this is ironic, since such religious intolerance was one of the primary reasons early pioneers left their homes and settled in this country.
- Our “unalienable rights” to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” are now tied to our acquired income. We have a ruling political Party who want to impose sickness, suffering and death on those who cannot afford basic, quality medical care.
- The equality and justice of all is ignored for Americans who are poor, or sick, or dark-skinned, or worship in a different way, or have a different sexual orientation or gender identity.
- Rather than insuring a “well armed militia,” they have abandoned all reason to allow anyone to own a weapon...many weapons…which are systematically being used against one another.
On July 4th, many Americans will fly their flag, put their hands over their heart, lift their voices to sing the national anthem and recite the Pledge of Allegiance.
But I will not join in.
I will exercise my patriotic duty, using my voice to speak out against the systematic oppression of this current administration, particularly the man who holds the office of President.
In accordance with my faith, I will put my hands together, and pray for wisdom and compassion from our elected officials. “Defend the poor and fatherless; do justice to the afflicted and needy. Deliver the poor and needy; free them from the hand of the wicked.” (Psalm 82: 3-4)
And I have decided to fly my flag upside down, the international sign of distress.
We are NOT safe or secure.
We are in trouble!
“May our land be a land of liberty, the seat of virtue, the asylum of the oppressed, a name and a praise in the whole Earth, until the last shock of time shall bury the empires of the whole world in one common undistinguished ruin!”
~ Joseph Warren, patriot of the American Revolution