Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Preparing For Independence Day

I am always fascinated by the segments on Jay Leno when he takes to the streets and asks average Americans questions that we assume are common knowledge. The ignorance of people in our country is astounding! I wonder what the responses would be if Jay were to ask, "Why do we celebrate the 4th of July?" I would hope that most people could at least get to the fact that it is Independence Day, but what does that really mean?

This celebration is a commemoration of the United States' freedom from the United Kingdom. 231 years later, are we still honoring the same thing? Maybe so. However, perhaps it would do us all good to think about what Independence Day in 2007 means. Have we achieved freedom, liberty, and justice for all? Be honest. We gained freedom from the English. Have we yet reached a point where all in this country are free? Does justice prevail. Consider the following:
  • Do we really have gender equality in this country?
  • Do people of color have ALL the same rights as their white counterparts?
  • Are gays and lesbians afforded the same rights as heterosexuals?

If we answer honestly, the response to each of the above questions is a resounding, "No." We do not live in a country where freedom is extended to every citizen. Though those who are considered "privileged" now constitute a larger percentage of the population than they have in the past, the lives of many of those who live in the United States are marked by a world of inequality and injustice. What can we do? Just as America fought for independence back in the 1770's, we must continue to fight for freedom and independence for those living in this country now. If you are a man, are you willing to fight and sacrifice to obtain equal rights for women? If you are white, are you willing to eat, sleep, work, live, pray by a neighbor who is black, brown, yellow, or red? Are you willing to fight for the rights of our homosexual brothers and sisters? If you answer no to any of these questions, then perhaps you do not yet understand what Independence Day really means.

As you gather with your family for picnics and fireworks tomorrow, remember those whose families are not recognized by this country and all those for whom justice and equality mean nothing. As you watch the fireworks illumine the dark night sky, may fireworks also explode in your heart and bring light to all those places where injustice and inequality are hidden by darkness.

. . . with liberty and justice for all.