It’s Hard to Feel Celebratory about my Country’s Birthday

How can we wave our flags with pride on this 246th anniversary of the USA when a parade celebrating that occasion in a Chicago suburban community became yet another massacre event? Another mass shooting. The shooter, an allegedly a 22-year-old white male. Independence Day? Celebrating freedom? We are certainly not free from random, senseless violence.

How can I feel joyous when a 10-year-old rape victim in Ohio was denied an abortion? I feel nothing but fear and dread for my a 7-year-old granddaughter who lives in Kansas where she is facing losing her right to bodily autonomy next month as Kansans vote on an amendment that could overturn a 2019 state Supreme Court ruling protecting her right to bodily autonomy.

These latest eventscome on the heels of a friend from New Zealand sharing a view of the US entitled “America is no longer our shining city on a hill” written by a 29-year-old Kiwi named Verity Johnson. Sadly, she nailed it. And this latest tragedy just punctuates it.

“America has always been the golden child that everyone goes on and on about” she writes . . .

“America. It’s supposed to be our star quarterback of the free world, the champion in any global clash over ideals of freedom, democracy and tolerance.

“But it’s looking less and less like the star these days . . .

”It’s not looking like the star any more. The red, white and blue-tinted spectacles have come off. And actually, it looks like it’s in the middle of having an explosive, gruesome public breakdown. We’re all standing around, horrified, watching and wondering what happens now? Who’s our champion if it’s not the US . . .”

I have no doubt most of the world sees it this way.

Racism is deeply rooted in the foundation of America. And while we have never apologized to our indigenous peoples for breaking treaties — as NZ has done — nor to the descendants of slaves — we have limped along, sweeping those unsightly parts of our history under the rug and trying to ignore the remnants of bigotry that have always existed as perennial undercurrents.

For the most part, Americans live in denial. We desperately wanted to believe it was just some bad apple cops who racial profile or are far more easily violent with suspects of color. Social media and everyone carrying a pocket-sized recording device has, however, forced us to face a different — and far less pretty — reality.

Capitalism has slowly become more and more out-of-control in my lifetime as corporations were granted personhood (!?). We turned a blind-eye as lobbyists made us more and more politically dirty and corrupt, and we’ve always been saddled with the preposterous and ill-defined 2nd amendment to our constitution. But, we limped along and, yes, tried to be the mighty defender of democracy all over the world. (NATO is also not doing so well fighting a criminal tyrant).

And, then, one mega-maniac came along and, like a good sociopath, knew and played on all our nation’s weaknesses and fanned all the flames of hatred, solidifying a base of gun-toting, misogynist bigots — and here we are: Majorly EFFED UP!

At least half of us see it that way and are fighting as hard as we can to get us back to the America we grew up with. The one we were proud to call home and the one admired by the world — well-hidden flaws and all.

Right now the “bad guys” are winning. They have the majority in congress and on the Supreme Court. But we’re trying. We’re fighting. I don’t know how it will end up and I likely won’t be around to see it, but I sure hope good wins out over evil — evil dressed in religious garb.

John Pavolvitz, a Christian paster for over two decades, much of that in predominantly white churches in the American South, predicted a year ago the crush of Evangelical political power saying they are poised for a holy war and unless stopped, they will:

“ . . .gain control of Congress, Conservative Christians will decimate this nation, and LGBTQ people, Muslims, women, people of color, and non-Christians will never have equality under the law again. We will all be at their mercy — and they will no longer have use for mercy.”

In June 2021 Pavlovitz wrote:

“Women will lose autonomy over their own bodies.
LGBTQ people will have the rights to marry and adopt taken away.
People of color will be fully squeezed out of the electoral process.
Immigrants will be denied access to opportunity and refuge here.
These are not creative projections. They are precisely what Evangelicals have repeatedly stated as their intentions, and they’re closer than they’ve ever been to having a rubber stamp.”

All I can do is hope it turns back around and work to make changes so something like the January 6 insurrection— coming so very close to losing it all — never happens. And I hope while currently we are not a proud model worthy of looking up to, I hope at least we serve as a warning to future American voters and to other nations see how precious and very delicate democracy is. And how a maniac in office can do irreparable harm.

For now, I am not feeling like celebrating what this nation has become.

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