Someone asked me yesterday if I remembered the Bi-centennial back in 1976. It was a huge event, and though I don’t remember many specifics, I remember the excitement in the air. I probably went to the big fireworks show out at P.E. Shotwell Stadium in Abilene, Texas, where I was enjoying the summer between my junior and senior years of high school. Or maybe I was working out at Putt-Putt Golf out by the old Westgate Mall, which was my first real job. Or maybe I was out with my girlfriend at the time (very possible). Whatever I was up to, I’m pretty sure I was clueless about anything remotely related to freedom and it’s deeper implications. It’s hard to imagine that on the edges of the Vietnam Era, and with a sister who was passionate about many political issues, I preferred to just wander around reading, thinking, dreaming–all of which were escapes from various difficulties of home and relationship–not very engaged with the broader issues of the time.
I fear I’m still a bit that way. Maybe an era gets in the bones, or your childhood does, and though my sensibilities about the world at large, with its various injustices and inequities, are much more on my radar than they used to be, I confess that I am still not the political animal many are.
But freedom is a big deal. I have no doubt that we take much for granted here. I’ve seen several films lately that underscore what life can be like under explicitly oppressive regimes, regimes that not only abuse the few, but abuse nearly everybody. Seeing Equivocation earlier in the week reminded me that even the best-intentioned governments, politicians, and pundits can destroy lives. It’s easy to pick up a paper and read of crimes against humanity both here and abroad, on personal and national scales. Human trafficking, lack of access to water, the plight of orphans around the world…the list seemingly goes on forever. What do you do? Well, with the connectivity of the internet and the social consciousness of young people driving a new determination to actually battle these issues, thankfully, there’s a lot we can do. On the home front, especially at church, we work on homelessness, increased access to social services like healthcare, job opportunity, hunger relief, and community-building. We’ve got members in Mexico building houses, in Kenya working on AIDS relief and Micro-financing, and soon the teens will be headed to Arizona to work among the poor.
What’s amazing is that we are free to do these things. I guess that’s my only point. There are problems in this culture, surely, but the conversation about those problems flies pretty freely. There are injustices, but at least in great measure, there is energy and room to battle back. Nothing’s perfect, but I’m thankful for the stab at freedom those people took a couple of centuries ago, and I’m thankful for the people who still try to make it work.
Happy 4th…I’m staying home…