Still, when I think of the road we’re traveling on
I wonder what’s gone wrong
I can’t help it, I wonder what’s gone wrong……
The song above is my favorite and the one on that video is my favorite version of it. If someone wanted to understand my experience, my life this song comes as close as anything. The words are not mine but I swear they come from my heart, my soul, my eyes. And I wonder in some way of many of you have not also been there.
On this July 4th much is about American tunes.
It is about a melody of promise. It is not just about the freedom from but the freedom to. It is about soldiers in great causes that have fought and died so that we might have but it is more than that. It is about ordinary people in smaller moments who stand up for justice, for care, for compassion, for fairness. It is about ordinary people who face hard circumstances and pick life and persist even when quitting would be easier. It is about courage. It is about knowing that you matter, that you have stature and impact, but also knowing that I can’t matter if you don’t matter. It is about we. It is the triumph of hope and possibility. It is about light, even when all seems dark.
In some ways it is about what you celebrate. It is about vision. Much of the discussion and debate I hear in this election year is about what that vision is. What defines us? Is the freedom we celebrate today simply about power? Is it the freedom to limit others, to keep them in their place? Is it the freedom to make sure those different from me pose me no threat or challenge? Is it the freedom to hate without restraint or limit? Is it to turn a blind eye to those poor, those sick, those hurt, those who were born into life unkind and those who have never known any other life? Is freedom the ability to turn my head and comfort myself with tales of “they just need to try harder…..” and “they just brought this upon themselves….” Is my freedom, my justice in the ability not to see the injustice around me or at least be assured that it doesn’t matter or be of concern to me?
That is not my American Tune.
My American Tune is celebrated in the lives of many, many people most will never hear of, that most will never know matter, but who matter so very, very much. And it is these lives that I find melody and hope that I pray will one day be the song we all sing.
My American Tune is in the hope that one day poverty will not be the necessary agent of the death of so many. My American Tune is grounded in the truth that all of us are more than any name we are called or label we are given. My American Tune is that the division between those who have and those who don’t have will one day seem such a strange thing we will be amazed that it was ever something ever so true. My American Tune is that one day we will not pursue the biggest and best walls as a matter of public policy or personal reality. My American Tune is that the promise we make of better life and liberty and happiness be accessible to all. My American Tune is of a country that does not give in to hate and suspicion nor let itself be defined by the divisions that so torment it. My American Tune is of a place where my defeat is not a necessary part of your victory. My American Tune is of a place where hope really works.
I hope that this is a great day for you. I hope that you take more than a moment to recognize the sacrifices of so many. I hope it is a day of rest but also a day of dedication.
And I hope it is the first day of many good days all of us seek so strong.