I live in an amazing country.
Over the last few weeks, I have had chances to backpack and scale peaks and visit Anasazi ruins and drive through a pretty incredible highway system. I’ve met some incredible and gregarious people which suits me. I am truly thankful for the education I have received here and the people which I have been lucky enough to have walking beside me.
The United States is an amazing place to live full of amazing people.
As we celebrate our independence from England today, I’m reminded of our dependence and interdependence across the globe. Politically we are sovereign within these geographical bounds, and that sovereignty exists within a complex web of trade agreements and political ‘coalitions’ like the United Nations.
We celebrate our freedoms – the rise in our ability to express ourselves in a political sphere. We celebrate our history – the brave people who sacrificed for the sake of their ideology and our freedom.
But along with my thankfulness and celebrations, I tend to take the recovery movements advice a little strongly – we need a little brutal honesty in our self evaluation as a country. I was not raised in a tradition of Christianity that values self examination, but since then I have come into the Methodist Church with rich history of self evaluation and mutual evaluation. The Benedictines and Jesuits have taught me quite a bit about the practice.
It’s about being honest about our sin – and I’m not talking about the federal government or state government. Those are just too far away. Look a little closer.
But the brutal honesty of the recovery movement stops too soon for me – where’s the liberation we can receive in Christ? Can we say we are free from one sin or another? What’s the focus of such brutal honesty?
It’s to remember our goals, our dreams, our aspirations – however much they cost.
So here’s my rundown:
1) Those things we claim in the pledge of allegiance – you know ‘liberty and justice for all’ – we just might to want to start working towards them. Otherwise “the home of the brave” is just bull malarky.
2) If we really think we have a democracy and not an oligarchy, we may want to consider working for some economic equity in this country. Thomas Jefferson and his cohort didn’t seem to want democracy for the federal government for a variety of reason, but I think it’s important to remember that he had no idea how much influence the federal government would really have – especially after the civil war.
Don’t get me wrong – I am not talking about handouts or Robin Hood like activities. What I am saying is that a free market capitalist society tends towards social stratification that can undermine democracy without a government protecting the one asset of the lower classes – labor. In other words, the biggest union of them all should be the Federal Government. Personally, I think labor protection functions best in the hands of the state governments or county governments with one problem – there’s no one to stop businesses from divesting from one area or another based on labor practice.
Essentially this is one of the problems faced by Europe in creating the Eurozone – although it’s a bit more complicated.
However, it’s the Federal government’s job to protect that asset we all hold and are born with – labor. We can all work with our (metaphorical) hands, and everyone should be able to live on what we make with our ‘hands’.
So, my dreams for this country? Strong education, Strong democracy, Strong economy, Equitable Distribution of Wealth that allows for the others, and a place that seeks justice and restoration not retribution, I want us to have better schools and fewer prisons.
For now, I dearly love this Country for what it has accomplished and I mourn today for the sin that has plagued and continues to plague us in our hearts and practices.