A moment of contemplation for yourself or on behalf of others on everything from the life-altering to the mundane.

Prayer: A conversation with The Higher Other who lives within each of us. An invitation to vent, to re-think, to ask, and to rest.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

A Moment: We the People update ~ Independence, Interdependence, and Greatness

            I love the country of my birth. We are part of each other. I have traveled to 42 of our 50 states and I have lived in 10 of them. We are more than New York City, Miami, Chicago, San Francisco - those mega-cities that most visitors "know" after a few days on tour and therefore assume they "know" the US. As if London is representative of all of the United Kingdom, Paris is all that is France, or Hong Kong explains China. We are more than our crime statistics, deadly mass shootings, and the extreme disparities between wealth and poverty.
         We the People of the United States are mostly in small towns and rural areas with a considerable population of folks who rarely travel far from where they were born. As in other places, our coastal cultures are different from the interior ways of life, the mountain life is different from that on the big lakes or the prairies, and do not confuse the Southwest with the Upper Peninsula, or a Yankee with a Hoosier or a Buckeye. As in many countries our accents, our slang, and our time zones change many times across our 3,000 mile (4800 km) width, from north to south, and even inside of every state. 
         In these days the political divide is more polarized than ever and many believe strongly that potentially dangerous consequences may result from some of the unconscionable rhetoric that is pouring out. I sincerely hope and pray that decisions in the voting booth this year will be made on more than broadcast soundbites, unsustainable and extreme campaign rhetoric, manipulative self-interested opinion disguised as journalism, and the falsity of nationalism and isolationism, all of which, by ourselves and others across the world, have led to devastating global wars in the past. Ironically, our own Declaration of Independence calls out King George III in the 18th century for a variety of actions that we ourselves, via our elected representatives nationally and locally, have been party to, here and elsewhere in the world, over at least the last several decades such as:  

[The King] has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands. [emphasis mine]
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world...
and so on.

       I do often wonder how many "true" and "natural" citizens of this country, especially those elected to government or aspire to be, have actually read the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution whose principles are often bandied about inaccurately?
       I also know it has always been this way, from our beginnings as restive revolutionaries fighting for our Independence, to our Civil War, to Civil Disobedience in the 1960s, to the us and them of now. We have had hateful debates and diatribes and we have come together in tragedy and triumph. As with any family, we have relatives we don't like, don't speak to, and disagree with about everything. Some of it will eventually be resolved and some of it will not. But, we are family and we do go out of our way to help each other in a crisis whether it's a horrific act of violence or a monster natural disaster, even if we walk away again in a difference of opinion. 
        Again, I love the country of my birth. I don't always like us or what we do here and around the world, but as with any country on earth, We the People are not the politicians, the political parties, the headlines, all the bad news, or all the good. We are individuals, who by accident of birth or decision, live here with daily lives of quiet inspiration and desperation and everything in between. We are Americans, for better, for worse, forever, even if we leave. While I am certain that I would love any land of my birth, I just happened to be born in this one.  Here is what some have said about the freedom we proclaim as the Right of citizenship: 
Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves. 
              ~Abraham Lincoln
There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured by what is right with America. 
               ~William J. Clinton
What is the essence of America?  Finding and maintaining that perfect, delicate balance between freedom "to" and freedom "from." 
               ~ Marilyn vos Savant
He that would make his own liberty secure, must guard even his enemy from opposition; for if he violates this duty he establishes a precedent that will reach himself. 
               ~Thomas Paine
"Courage, then, my countrymen, our contest is not only whether we ourselves shall be free, but whether there shall be left to mankind an asylum on earth for civil and religious liberty."   ~Samuel Adams

“History teaches that grave threats to liberty often come in times of urgency, when constitutional rights seem too extravagant to endure.”
             ~Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall

                                                  You've got to be taught
                                                  To hate and fear,
You've got to be taught
From year to year,
It's got to be drummed
In your dear little ear
You've got to be carefully taught.

You've got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made,
And people whose skin is a diff'rent shade,
You've got to be carefully taught.

You've got to be taught before it's too late,
Before you are six or seven or eight,
To hate all the people your relatives hate,
You've got to be carefully taught!
 ~ Rodgers' and Hammerstein's South Pacific

This land is your land, this land is my land
From California to the New York Island
From the Redwood Forest to the Gulf Stream waters
This land was made for you and me.
As I was walking that ribbon of highway
I saw above me that endless skyway
I saw below me that golden valley
This land was made for you and me.
I roamed and I rambled and I followed my footsteps
To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts
While all around me a voice was sounding
This land was made for you and me.
When the sun came shining, and I was strolling
And the wheat fields waving and the dust clouds rolling
A voice was chanting, As the fog was lifting,
This land was made for you and me.
This land is your land, this land is my land
From California to the New York Island
From the Redwood Forest to the Gulf Stream waters
This land was made for you and me.
~ Woody Guthrie

      This is a great country even with its flaws, issues, and problems. We must learn from our own Founders that we are not free-floating and completely self-reliant in the world and/or only on our own terms. They did forge relationships with our former colonizer, after our Revolutionary War, that brought us to being staunch allies in this day and time. We have eventually made allies of many former enemy countries to further the qualities of life for ourselves and each other on this planet. Our freedom only goes as far as we rely on interdependence with all other human beings in their own countries on this earth. Of course, we must protect our own and our friends collaboratively from the terrors of rogue nations and outlaw organizations bound to do harm for desperate, faulty, and extreme ideologies. But we must be clear, in our sense and practice of Democracy, that Independence and Freedom carry the significant responsibilities and application of universal justice, mercy, and peace - we all reap what is sown by ourselves and in our names. We will always and only be as great as the alliances we form and the freedoms we protect together. 

Click here to hear/see the iconic Pete Seeger with Bruce Springsteen and others sing: This Land is Your Land

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