Now that we’ve shot off all the fireworks and eaten all the leftover Fourth of July food, let’s get on with the business of bringing a little more liberty to the land.
We tend to think of liberty as a fancy word confined to the parchment of historical documents. We define freedom as an individual right – I’m free to do whatever I want, so long as I don’t hurt anyone else all that much.
That’s not at all the case.
Liberty and freedom aren’t fancy words or individual guarantees. They’re a process that requires everyone’s participation. We can’t have liberty and justice for all until we’re all willing to see the injustice and the lack of liberty all around us, and then commit ourselves to doing something about it.
Liberty is participatory. Freedom is a process. Neither one freely exists – they have to be created out of a determination that everyone must be treated as equally important and equally beloved.
And each of us has a responsibility to get involved.
A network of mutuality
As the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., put it in his letter from a Birmingham jail: “I cannot sit by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
So yes, on this Sixth of July, let’s resolve to make freedom ring a little louder …
Freedom for black citizens to finally be treated as equals in all respects, in a society that has relegated them to the status of property for most of its history.
Freedom for women to finally be treated as equals in all ways, in a society that has relegated them to second-class status throughout its existence.
Freedom for Muslims, Jews, and people of all faiths to practice their faith without intimidation or coercion from those who believe differently.
Freedom for LGBTQ and transgender citizens to be treated as equal citizens in all respects.
Freedom for people with mental or physical challenges to be accepted as equal citizens and given a chance to contribute as they can, without society creating even more barriers and walls for them.
Freedom for hurting people to get the healing that they need without financial barriers erected in their path.
Freedom for needy people to get the assistance that they need without being demeaned, ignored or turned away.
Freedom for all to be treated as equally important and equally beloved children of our Creator, who bestows the inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness upon everyone equally.
Let freedom ring
Let freedom ring a little louder …
Freedom from the tyranny of elevating the desires of the few powerful people over the needs of the many people.
Freedom from the tyranny of prizing individual wealth over the common good.
Freedom from the fear and prejudice and anger that imprison each of us in so many ways and shred the social fabric that is necessary for us to live in harmony.
Freedom from the influence of shrill and divisive voices that play on our worries and prejudices and seek to lessen our collective liberty out of fear.
Freedom from the lie that I am the only one who matters and what happens to others is none of my concern — they deserve their fate. This lie enslaves us, corrupts us and is at the core of much of what’s wrong with our society and our world.
Freedom from the violence that is the inherent product of our obsession with weapons and war as ways to solve problems.
Freedom from the falsehood that bullying – in our personal lives or our collective lives — is the way to achieve greatness.
Yes, that freedom – let it ring louder.