A Fourth of July Reading

Today hundreds of millions of Americans will celebrate all that is good in the history of the United States of America. Even though we know there is much to criticize about America there is also much to celebrate.

History books generally focus on the people who were in power as if all change comes from those in positions of authority. The truth is, though, that much of what we love about America was created by ordinary citizens. Often they encountered resistance from those in power; sometimes they found allies in power who joined in the struggle.

Today, let’s give thanks to God for the ordinary and extraordinary Americans whose struggles brought about those changes.

Of the waves of immigrants from all parts of the world who struggled to accept each other and find a place in this country – we remember.

Of the Native peoples, whose hospitality was tragically not reciprocated – we remember.

Of the slave ships, displacing millions of Africans against their will – we remember.

For the escaped slaves and their allies — particularly Quakers, evangelical Christians, and freedom-loving secularists — who built the underground railroad and helped countless people to freedom – we give thanks.

For the coalitions of religious and secular people — women and men, black and white — who built popular support for the emancipation of the slaves – we give thanks.

Of the African Americans and allies who went to prison, lost their livelihoods, and were savagely beaten in the struggle for civil rights – we remember.

For the working people who championed protections like the eight-hour day, minimum wage, workers’ compensation, and the right to organize, often at great personal cost to them – we give thanks.

For those who continue to “welcome the stranger” just as this country opened its gates to their ancestors when they were the immigrants and strangers, and to all who fight for the safety and decent treatment of immigrants – we give thanks.

For the women who risked family, job security, and their own constructed identities to shift our collective consciousness and raise awareness of the effects of patriarchy – we give thanks.

For those who continue to work for equal access for people with disabilities – we give thanks.

For those who developed ecological awareness and advocate for the earth itself – we give thanks.

For all of the innovators and artists who have brought so much beauty and usefulness into our lives – we give thanks.

For those who fought to extend democratic principles not only in politics but also in the workplace and in the economy – we give thanks.

For those who developed innovations in science and technology, in literature and art, in music and dance, in film and in computer science, in medical and communication technologies, and provide much-needed wisdom to protect ourselves from the destructive impacts of some of these new technologies – we give thanks.

For those who brought the insights of their own particular religious or spiritual traditions emphasizing love and caring for others and generosity toward those who are impoverished – we give thanks.

For those who fight for peace and for those who encourage nonviolence – we give thanks.

For this nation, imperfect though it is, we give thanks!

Reading courtesy of The Network of Spiritual Progressives


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