Here is an Interdependence Day piece I wrote a few years ago. For years, I felt uncomfortable on July 4th because I believed we had broken our ideals and our pact of humanity and equality, but now I realize that we never truly lived up to them. Some days, I still hope that we can become the Good Force that we have sort of thought we were. I recognize that this is a painful conversation for some of my beloveds, that to question the root truth of the nation that you have given your lives and your families to feels like a terrible betrayal. I only ask that you consider that the whole idea of the nation has been a terrible betrayal for those we enslaved since before we even became a nation, and for those who lived here in the Before, who were decimated and tortured, whose land we stole in order to make a nation at all.
I recognize that today is the United States independence day. It’s always crunchy for me.
I don’t celebrate war and war “victories.”
I don’t celebrate a freedom that was borne on the backs of slaves.
I don’t celebrate the genocide that wiped out, marginalized and impoverished the people of the first nations.
I don’t celebrate a freedom that ignores our slave-owning and genocidal history to proclaim us all-good and all-powerful, evidence to the contrary.
I don’t celebrate the increasing calls to close us off, to keep out those who seek sanctuary in our borders.
I don’t celebrate throwing candy to the rich while grabbing bread from the poor.
I don’t celebrate the rush to destroy this beautiful part of the Earth, to call her gifts “resources” that must be maximized and used until she is played out.
I don’t celebrate the fear-mongering that I see, the use of fear to keep people in their places, afraid of each other, afraid of their own freedom.
I don’t celebrate “America First.”
I struggle to celebrate when the country itself is in crisis, when those who were chosen to administer our ship of state have instead chosen to rule like the king we thought we had freed ourselves from those centuries ago.
I can celebrate human community.
I can celebrate the spirit that longs to break the bonds of tyranny for all peoples.
I can celebrate the spirit of that statue that stands in our harbor, her lamp held high in welcome for all who seek refuge.
I can celebrate the strong spirit of resistance to tyranny that continues to pull people to demand rights for ALL of us.
I can celebrate the beautiful diversity of us, and the way we find connecting points, the way we so willingly wear each others’ stories.
I can celebrate the music, the foodways, the arts, the dialects, the histories, of us in all our many colors and shades and tones and temperaments.
I can celebrate inTERdependence.
I can celebrate the hope that we will stand up to the greed-mongers and the fear-mongers and the hate-mongers, that we will work to create a nation where all can be free, where all can expect justice.
for the awakeners,
for the story-sharers,
for the truth-speakers,
for the one who walk into the fire,
for the ones willing to change and to make change.
May we do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly in Beauty!
“If you want to awaken all of humanity, then awaken all of yourself. If you want to eliminate the suffering in the world, then eliminate all that is dark and negative in yourself. Truly, the greatest gift you have to give is that of your own self-transformation.” ―Lao Tzu
“The heart is the house of empathy whose door opens when we receive the pain of others. This is where bravery lives, where we’ll find our mettle to give and receive, to love and be loved, to stand in the center of uncertainty with strength, not fear, understanding this is all there is. The heart is the path to wisdom because it dares to be vulnerable in the presence of power.”
—Terry Tempest Williams
“You are something that the Whole Universe is doing, in the same way that a wave is something that the Whole Ocean is doing…” ―Alan Watts
“You are beautiful, and I have loved you dearly, more dearly than the spoken word can tell.”
“It’s a matter of discipline. When you’ve finished washing and dressing each morning, you must tend to your planet.” —Antoine de Saint-Exupery in “The Little Prince”
“To cope with losing our world requires us to descend through the anger into mourning and sadness, not speedily bypass them to jump onto the optimism bandwagon or escape into
indifference. And with this deepening, an extended caring and gratitude may open us to what is still here, and finally, to acting accordingly.” —Per Espen Stoknes
. . .if truth is to be taught, then teaching and learning must take the shape of truth itself–a community of faithful relationships. Education in truth must bring teacher and student into troth with each other, into the very image of the truth it hopes to convey.” —Parker J. Palmer
“No matter what they ever do to us, we must always act for the love of our people and the earth. We must not react out of hatred against those who have no sense.” ― John Trudell
“I celebrate independence anywhere it happens. The question here is how. When a diversity of peoples is destroyed or diminished in a holocaust of outrageous proportions for independence, does this truly result in liberty, justice and freedom for all? In a few generations indigenous peoples of America have been reduced to one-half of one percent. Imagine Africa with one-half of one percent Africans. We have been essentially disappeared in the story of America. Our
massive libraries of knowledge, rich cultural and intellectual gifts have been disparaged, destroyed and broken by interloper religions and a hierarchical system of thought in which indigenous people exist only as savages. What then does this say about liberty and justice in this country?
“For healing the wound needs to be opened, purged and cleansed. Our stories need to be allowed. Our traditional ways and languages need to be honored. This country needs to
apologize and reparations must be made. We all need to come together, every one of us to make a true plan for liberty and justice for all. As long as indigenous peoples are disappeared and disparaged, or surface only in Hollywood movies like The Lone Ranger, this country will remain as a child without parents, who has no sense of earth, history or spirituality.” —Joy Harjo
2 thoughts on “A Day of Mourning and Reflection”
Thank you, Jane!
So eloquently said, Beth. Thank you. So sad to think of what might have been. Or maybe it never could be, but there could be aspirations that aren’t hollow.
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