Friday, July 02, 2010

Happy Fourth of July!

I have a special fondness for the fourth of July.

My son's birthday is July 6th, and as he was growing up, we gathered as a family on July 4th to watch the fireworks and celebrate his birthday. For many years, he was convinced that the fireworks were there because it was his birthday. (He turns 17 next week and has just returned from a service learning trip in a small town in Costa Rica.)

But, I also love the big meanings behind the holiday: freedom and equality for, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

I know, of course, as my colleagues at Tikkun are reminding people in an email this morning that the Declaration of Independence only extended that to white men, that the colonies allowed the slavery of Africans and ignored Native Americans completely, and that women had no rights at all. And, I don't think we should ignore those historical realities. Tikkun has written a lovely reading to share at July 4th picnics that you might use or adapt.

But, it's the promise of those big words that move me and seem to me not only legal but spiritual in nature. I believe to my core that we are all created equally in God's image and that we all have inherent dignity and worth. And I believe that we are all compelled to work to make that birthright a reality to all, regardless of sex, gender, race, class, religion, or geography.

So, Sunday night, we will have our picnic, watch the fireworks, take a moment to be grateful for our lives and our families and friends, and recommit ourselves once again to what we can do to bring about a better world.

Happy Fourth of July.

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