July 4th has come and gone. Many have an extra day off from work today so the holiday continues, I guess. The weekend was filled with patriotic songs, poems of freedom, cook-outs, and fireworks. It was quite the celebration of freedom.
Freedom. It’s a word we throw around a lot and it is cosmetic. It looks good on its face. It is perhaps one of the most used political platforms. It is what the United States was founded on, freedom from the tyranny of the rule of England, if I may so dramatic.
Freedom. It’s a luxury really only enjoyed by so few. And those that enjoy this are often blind to those for whom freedom is only a myth.
– When a black family has to coach their children on how they need to act different during a traffic stop, where is their freedom?
– On Friday, the Tulsa County Sheriff arrested a family that had been evicted, put the children in foster care and created a Twitter “caption contest” with a picture of this family’s car and possessions. Where is their freedom?
– Many “free” Americans have to work 2 or 3 minimum wage jobs to make ends meet. The last minimum wage adjustment was nearly 12 years ago on July 24, 2009. Where is their freedom?
– The working class of this country pay anywhere between 15% and 29% of their earnings in income tax while the very most wealthy pay little or none. Where is their freedom?
I could go on and on citing examples of the inequities of the ways different classes are treated. Tragically, the list is quite long.
In my parish church yesterday, we prayed the Collect for July 4. The beginning sentence of this prayer is, “Lord God Almighty, in whose Name the founders of this country won liberty for themselves and for us, and lit the torch of freedom for nations then unborn…” The founders won liberty for themselves and us… seriously? I could not bring myself to say the words.
Slavery was legal when the founders won liberty for themselves and us. It was a country of haves and have nots then and it remains so today. And, I dare say, the “haves” are perfectly content with that. Those with power and money still continue to take away or deny freedom to those who are weaker, poorer, have a different skin color, different country of citizenship; the list goes on.
I cannot fix America. But I can and will continue to work hard in my corner of the world to be sure that I am not part of the problem and do all in my power to be part of making a better country with freedom and equity for all, especially those on the margins. I invite you to put down your flag, roll up your sleeves, and let’s do the hard work together to make “freedom for all” really mean something. Because until we all do this together, patriotism is only cosmetic make-up on the ugly face of the very tyranny we objected to hundreds of years ago