I am not a very patriotic person – I do not wave the flag, pledge allegiance to it, or constantly declare that this is the greatest country on earth. This is not God’s country. I do my best to separate my theology from my politics, which has left me on unfriendly terms with my. Yet, there are days in which I am reminded of the great promise of this country, of the great things that it has done, has brought about, and has inspired.
We look at the revolutions around the globe, even the recent – and God willing, ongoing – revolution in Iran. People desire the freedom which we have. The founding documents of many governments, and the United Nations as well, have written into their lives words similar to what we have lived under for over two-hundred years.
We have a great promise from our Founding Fathers, and Mothers who supported the War in various ways, that we can achieve a great government founded upon equality and respect, a government of liberty and the rule of Law. There is a promise that all men, and all women, are created equal and born with rights which no one may take away. They may from time to time repress and oppress, but when the oppressed arise, they shall regain any misplaced rights.
We hold these truths to be 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.
When this was penned, it did not extend many of those ‘unalienable rights’ to women, nor to men of color, and further yet, many rights were restricted to only those men who owned property. Yet, like the Prophets of old who spoke without knowing the power of their words, this promise has gradually come to apply to the various segments of our country who have long been denied their ‘unalienable rights.’ I seriously doubt that any of the Founders could long foresee the equality in our society today, or the problems which we seem to have in fully extending the right to excercise those rights to all people.
The Founding Fathers agreed to a Creator, although that Creator was open for speculation, and seemingly to an equality, although by practice and law, that equality was extremely limited, yet we still deny to certain ones the fully ability to participate in the American life.
Dr. King spoke about a check that was yet to be cashed,
In a sense we have come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
We have people waiting, still yet, on that check to clear, Dr. King.
We are Americans, proud, a city indeed set on a hill, loyal, willing to die for freedom’s cause, and optimistic; yet, in the past generation, we have increasingly given in to fear – not of the unknown, but the different. We have allowed our beacon of liberty to be darkened, and the promise of our Found Fathers, and the hope of oppressed peoples, to become marked with vileness.
We have seen dark times, and good times, and while countries today are threatening us, our greatest problem derives not from insane dictators from across the ocean (much like it was over 200 years ago) but from the distinctly American ability to refuse to find common ground, to have our parts wage a war of fear and destruction against one another. Today, we have our neighbors calling for the death of fellow Americans, and battles on our homeland, to save this country. This will be what destroys us – we ourselves will destroy this country by the Civil War that rages between the States, between Americans, between us all.
Today is the 4th of July, some 237 years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Today is a day for all Americans to take some time and put aside differences – imagined, real, political, religious – and remember that we are Americans first, that politics come second, that this country is temporal, but the heavenly eternal. Let us keep in our prayers today, those men and women who serve our country in uniform and out of uniform who will always go unnoticed. And let us keep in our prayers those people who are still laboring for freedom, in our society and around the world.