First Blush

Reflections and sightings from [almost] daily jogging at dawn

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Sunrise 5:52 am: Faith and the 4th of July



As the Dawn Joggers and Cassie walked the flag-festooned streets of suburban Menlo Park (still cheered by the convivial atmosphere of last night's picnic, New Orleans-style jazz, and fireworks at Frost Amphitheater as shown in the 'last blush' photo), the female DJ couldn't help reflect on the state of the union. Like many of the generation that came of age during the civil rights movement and the Vietnam war, 'celebrating' the 4th of July was not always comfortable. Celebration seemed the wrong action when your heart ached about what your country was doing in the name of freedom - FBI-ordered wire tapping of both student and civil rights leaders and pumping billions of dollars and sacrificing young lives in another country's civil war, all justified by the "threat of communism." On the other side, those who were troubled, perplexed, or maybe uneducated, by what the two movements were protesting against, shouted back the admonishment, "my country right or wrong."

Now 40 years later, it appears to the female DJ, we've fallen into an even more precarious situation. While there are many instances of the current administration's efforts to curb freedom - here and abroad - in the name of the "threat of terrorism," there is little outrage. Today's San Francisco Chronicle's lead editorial, a call for patriots to awaken, wonders if the silence is due to "lingering shock" post 9/11 or the result of "the complacency of a half-century of growing affluence." Others have suggested the cause, particularly in regards to the war in Iraq, is due to the fact that, unlike the 60s, there is no draft.

The female DJ thinks there may be another factor, namely the absence of a pervasive faith-based call to question the morality of the current administration's actions and its cloaking of these actions as what God is directing them to do. In the 60s, it was the churches and synagogues, allied with the secularists, that led the civil rights and anti-war movement. But somewhere along the way being a religious person, a church-going person, a person of faith became marginalized within progressive circles. The result, as Illinois Senator Barack Obama points out, is a growing suspicion between religious America and secular America, a gap exasperated and exploited by religious leaders on the right. Has it also stymied faith-based calls to seek peace and justice? Barack's far-reaching, keynote speech to a progressive Christian organization is a plea for all of us to start listening to and having conversations with each other. No one gets off the hook. As such, it provides inspirational reading for this year's Independence Day.

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