America is much more than a geographical fact. it is a political and moral fact – the first community in which men set out in principle to institutionalize freedom, responsible government, and human equality.
~ Adlai Stevenson
The Center for Economic and Policy Research
just released a report entitled The Adult Recession: Age-Adjusted Unemployment at Post-War Highs . This economic study reveals that the current unemployment rate, when adjusted for an aging population, is the worst is has been since the Great Depression.
I don’t mean to harsh your Independence Day happy, I really don’t. Let’s admit it, though. For most of us who are dedicated to social justice, there is no easy way to celebrate when others are suffering, but we do it every day. It’s human, it’s normal, for sanity’s sake it has to be done. Like most Americans, I love my country and have an enormous gratitude for the fact I’ve had the good fortune to be born in the United States, and in a century of considerable progress. That I can think what I am inclined to think, worship my God openly and unfettered, and say what I feel needs saying, is truly a gift passed down from those who formed and continue to forge our Union. I can do this all without fear of much more than the verbal harpoons from those who think, believe and feel differently than I do, and of course, we are all familiar with “sticks and stones…” Trolls and Republicans and miscellaneous haters shall never hurt me (not physically, anyway).
But despite the cheerful anticipation of brats, beer, baseball, boat rides , community and presidential words of hopefulness that are iconic of our nation’s most patriotic holiday, all week there has been a nagging, nameless underlying sad for me. Maybe for you too. Beneath the current of excitement over time with friends and family, over the anticipation of seeing my little lads ooh and ahh at pyrotechnics and bask in the splendor of a beautiful MN summer, there have been the thoughts: How heavy were American hearts on this day during the Great Depression? How heavy are the hearts of the hungry, homeless, uninsured, sick, scared and the jobless now? Where does the history of a violently-won and preserved independence fit into my belief in Christ-commanded practice of non-violence? How do I express my joy in being American without denying the pain we are in as a nation today?
All over the country, these matters have been discussed this week with sincerity and candor-and, yes, humor. If you’re feeling the Red White and Blues too, here is some suggested reading:
Groans From Within : Unpopular Annual Post: “Why Christianity and the ‘4th’ are Incompatible” OR “Why this is NOT a day to celebrate” OR “Why my friends wont like me for the next week or so”
Crooks and Liars : It’s The Worst Period of Unemployment Since The Great Depression
Religion Dispatches: Are Conservatives Really More in Touch with the Founding Fathers?
O Me of Little Faith: Freedom, the 4th, and Faith
MPR News Cut : What the Founding Fathers Knew
The Onion Americans Could Use Some Cheering Up
Muppets Sing Stars and Stripes Forever
New York Times Bloggingheads: Down with Patriotism?
Huff Post/ Gary Hart: War, the Fourth and Struggling Americans
I don’t profess to have answers for anyone to these seemingly enigmatical questions-I am only at the beginning what I am sure will be a lifetime of chasing the answers for myself. I do know that engaged American citizenship is a demanding and thorny undertaking, and one all of us have always done well.