Hard to believe, isn’t it, that we are turning the bend into the second half of summer. July 4th seems to signal alerts to all the stores to bring out the school supplies and fall fashions. It’s a dirty trick and I’m not buying into it. I’m still waiting for summer!
So let’s give some of our energy and reflection instead to Independence Day. After listening to the musical Hamilton, plowing (still)through Ron Chernow’s book that the musical is based on and then having the privilege of experiencing the musical while in Chicago recently, I have new eyes for our independence. As George Washington says to a fiery Hamilton trying to get his ideas passed in the new nation, ”Winning was easy, young man, governing’s harder”.
What passion these young immigrants had for freedom, rights and hope for future generations. They were risk-takers that seemed quite aware that death was as possible, probably more so, than survival. Yet they struggled on. The win came and then, as the song goes, “The World turned upside down.” This young nation had new challenges that continue to evolve even today. “Winning was easy…”
Then they were challenged to grapple with freedom. Who was free? Only the white men? Only the wealthy? What about the slaves, the women, the poor, the abandoned? As the nation grew stronger and more powerful, eventually the leader of the modern world, have we become the oppressor? Who is hurt by our strength? The world has become smaller, more connected and interdependent. We need each other in ways unthought of when our nation began.
Our songs of patriotism warm our hearts and make us proud, it’s true. But our faith reminds us that God is not only on our side but on all sides, within each of us no matter where we live, moving us to widen our vision and open our hearts to include all nations and all peoples. One of my favorite patriotic songs is “This is My Song”. It’s in our hymnals #622. Let the words rest in your heart and mind and spirit.
Happy Independence Day!