As the United States, and what I believed it stood for when I was a child, continues to bleed out from COVID-19, unrelenting racism, violence, and the public stripping of our civil rights, we must pause on this day of national celebration of our independence from the tyranny of colonialism to reflect on our civil obligations, as my teacher Richard Rohr called us to do a year ago using the words of Sister Simone Campbell.
We are at war with each other today, and all the holiday cheer and celebration will not change that – it will only obscure it for the day. But when we awake to the hangover of our current reality, the nausea and headache some of us have every day when we read the news will remain until we actually do something. (If you are looking for instructions, click here)
One of the lines that jumped out at me in re-reading this meditation from last year for the umpteenth time this morning is, “a democracy cannot survive if various groups and individuals only pull away in different directions.“
When I see communities and our country in violent conflicts over face masks, I have moments of sheer hopelessness.
In the “old” days, I used to say, how can we solve our big problems if we can’t even get people to stop throwing Coke cans out of their car windows – or even better get them to stop drinking Coke.
Today’s small things are much more serious. People are willing to deliver death to their neighbors rather than wear a simple face mask for even 15 minutes. They call it individual freedom.
Here is what Sister Campbell says to that: “It is an unpatriotic lie that we as a nation are based in individualism. The Constitution underscores the fact that we are rooted and raised in a communal society and that we each have a responsibility to build up the whole. The Preamble to the Constitution could not be any clearer: “We the People” are called on to ‘form a more perfect Union.’”
I offer to all of you who take the time to read and study and learn – as we must in order to stop the bleeding – a respite. I hope you will take a four-minute break and go into your heart.
Full disclosure: this offering was directed by my son Jason Reiff. I hope you feel it the way that I do.
Editor’s note: “Rescue” was written by Bruce Roberts and Gavin Dillard.