On the eve of the 4th of July, my heart is heavy with the plight of so many seeking basic freedoms and having these freedoms denied by the actions (and inactions) of the United States government.
I know the crafters of the Declaration of Independence never intended to include all people in its lofty pronouncement that “all men are created equal…endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights,” yet I refuse to accept that these words are mere propaganda. Over the centuries, Americans have protested, organized, fought, bled and died for the expansion of these ideals – for liberty and justice for all. And while these goals still remain aspirational, they continue to be aspirations worth fighting for, worth demanding of our government, worth birthing ever more fully into existence in our country.
As a child, I daily pledged myself to my country: a republic that promotes liberty and justice for all. I feel it my patriotic duty, this 4thof July, to decry the lack of liberty and justice in my country, and prayerfully commit myself to the work of liberation.
To this end, I have decided to walk around Oakland’s beloved Lake Merritt (roughly three miles) seven times this 4th of July – reminiscent of the ancient Israelites circling Jericho seven times before its walls came tumbling down – prayerfully surrounding this symbolic center of my community, denouncing acts of injustice perpetrated by my country and demanding my country restore basic human rights to all its residents.
I will walk a lap for each of the following groups who continue to be denied freedom and justice in significant ways:
- for migrants seeking safety, security and a better life
- for Black and Brown lives suffering from systemic racism and police brutality
- for Palestinians, Central Americans and all in the international community seeking justice, equality and freedom
- for indigenous people seeking to protect and honor their sacred lands
- for the poor who seek shelter, food and good education
- for women everywhere seeking equality for themselves, freedom for their bodies, and opportunities for their families
- for the earth, which cries out from exploitation
I invite you to join me in your own way, connected to your own traditions of prayer and protest, to demand more from our country, to commit yourself to stand for and work for more from our country, and to do you part to reclaim for our beloved country all that we long for it to become.
May we who believe in freedom (and justice) not rest until it comes.