Fireworks are readied for launch. Red, white, and blue displays brighten stores. Parades are planned to celebrate liberty and freedom.
I’m not in the mood for it. Not this year.
Not while 2,000 terrified children are held captive within our borders, separated from parents who were desperately trying to save their lives and gain freedom from oppression – something any good parent would do.
Not while black people are being told to leave the pool, the coffee shop, the golf course, the rental apartment, and the sidewalk because they don’t deserve the same freedom as white people.
Not while God’s children who live outside our borders are labeled as vermin, infestations, rapists, and murderers — the same labels once attached to every group that came to our shores seeking freedom.
Not while Muslims are told they aren't welcomed on our shores because they don’t share Christian creeds and merit equal treatment.
Not while dictators who do horrific things to their people are presented as the new models of American ideals.
Not while millions of white Christians enable, encourage, and celebrate all of it.
Our society has always been conflicted about its written ideals and its actual practices. There’s been a great tension and struggle, right from the start.
The white men who wrote our founding documents chose words about equality and justice and God-given rights that cannot be taken from anyone. They also chose other words that effectively erased words of equality and justice for so many people — slaves, women, Native Americans, and other groups denied equal freedom or any freedom at all.
There’s always been a deep tension between those who believe the powerful words about freedom for all and those who believe that such freedom should be reserved to them alone. There have always been those who believe that their personal freedom is unbreakable but the freedom of others can be rationed.
This is a good time to reflect on freedom and how we’re living it, which matters just as much as having it.
What are we doing with our freedom?
Are we using it to bring justice to our political, social, economic, and religious systems so that all may enjoy freedom equally? Or are we using it in ways that are selfish, selective, and destructive, protecting our privilege at the expense of others’ liberty?
Are we working to expand freedom to all? Or are we supporting policies and attitudes that narrow it and deny it to others?
As we think about freedom this week, let’s pray for the resolve to use it lovingly and expansively.
Let’s pray for the courage to free ourselves from the fear and hatred that imprisons societies and denies equal treatment to God’s children.
Let’s pray for the fortitude to continuously challenge those who would limit others’ freedom or deny it altogether.
Let’s pray for the wisdom to navigate this challenging time in our society’s history and bring us closer to those written ideals of equal liberty and justice for all.
Let’s pray for freedom for all God’s children, and for the faith to bring it about.