On this day, as Americans, we celebrate the birth of our nation.  Today we picnic with family and friends and we marvel and exclaim at firework displays accompanied with symphonic music.  We know that it is good to appreciate one’s country and to remember what is pride-worthy in our nation.

Today we celebrate remembering that our Declaration of Independence declares: “We hold these truths as 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.” It is a clear and powerful statement projecting solid values that the new government was to preserve and cherish.  And it is just as clear and relevant today.

So, today we celebrate, but let us also ponder how well we live those words of our Declaration as a country.  Do they speak truth to or about us? Let us ask ourselves:

  • If we believe that all humans are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, would we welcome the stranger? There are refugees seeking asylum at our southern border and we house them in inadequate detention centers and take away their children.  If we believe all humans are created equal, would we be so inhumane?
  • If we believe that all humans are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, would we root out and heal the racism and exclusion now present in our laws and policies?
  • If we believe that all humans are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, would we limit Medicare / Medicaid and systematically provide less for our elders and those with disabilities? Would we be miserly with food stamps?
  • If we believe that all humans are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, would we insure healthcare for women and comparable pay for women’s work? The pay differential between women and men is unjust and can be found even in the professional spheres.
  • If we believe that all humans are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, would we continually assert that our country is number one at the expense of other countries and alliances?
  • If we believe that all humans are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, would we be more solicitous about the care of earth for our children and grandchildren?
  • If we believe that all humans are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, would we avoid war at all cost and develop strategies for peacemaking? What foolishness to think violence is ever a solution.

The answers to these questions may be sobering but we are able to re-fashion our legacy and enact new patterns of national behavior. We are a people whose ancestors desired to bring about a new country with values and rights.  We have a rich heritage in our documents.  Therefore, If we believe that all humans are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, it is time that we make the changes that are necessary.  Public action and intent are paramount in a democratic-type of society.  Government is meant to be at the consent of the governed.  That is a serious charge, also found in our Declaration: “That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government.”

So, today take time to celebrate but also take time to be mindful.  The strength of the United States is found in our values; the greatness of the United States is found in our willing hearts to create peace, value life, and strive for justice. Together we pray …

Karen Rossman, OP

Karen Rossman, OP