My parents were married on July 4, 1964. The 4th of July was always a big deal in our house. Wearing red, white and blue was a given and I still believe the fireworks in Bay City, Michigan are the most epic of anywhere in the country, I think because I made them a personal celebration of this union that began my family. I particularly remember the 25th anniversary with a fancy cake and the pooling of sibling resources to buy a VCR for our parents.
“Happy 4th of July” resonated only as a salutation acknowledging a sacred joining together through the early years of my childhood. To learn that everyone else was saying this as a declaration of independence, celebrating a separation achieved through war required reconciling for me to see how they could co-exist. I came to realization that both were acknowledging the start of a family – one of two individuals and the children who would emerge and one of the states uniting under one flag.
New dissonance emerged after living in and loving, marrying a citizen of and parenting children with access to citizenship of the country from which secession was sought and celebrated. I learned to see how seeing, celebrating and loving these nations separately from the common space in my heart was possible.
Gaining awareness of the impact on the people native to the land that was declared home of ultimate freedom deepened that discord for me. Further reconciling still underway here. Much work remains to see, celebrate and love freedom when it is not equally accessible to all who reside under the flag that claims to offer it as such.
The words of Nahko, as they play right this very moment in my house, echo this dissonance and I wonder how we will respond to the answers to the prayer for guidance?
Many of the usual celebrations are halted this year secondary to physical distancing parameters to slow spread of a virus that has claimed 126,966 lives in this country by the count available today. While we lament the loss of parades, parties and fireworks, perhaps we can pause and consider the truer losses. Obstruction of accurate documentation leaves genocide of the indigenous people on this continent ranging from 100,000 to 114,000,000. Perhaps this pause in our usual celebrations is a whisper of guidance to consider the hazards of assumption and the application of the words in the document commemorated today:
WHEN in the Course of human Events, it becomes necessary for one People to dissolve the Political Bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the Powers of the Earth, the separate and equal Station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them
WE hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness
Today I will consider my earliest memories of this day – of the beautiful, loving, mutually agreed upon unification. The representation of love, joy, beginnings. The celebration of a life started anew by the bringing together of lives. And I will listen for the guidance on how we can move forward from this place: of union declared in love, not war. Of the possibility for the welcome and maintenance of the wholeness of one as they join willingly the wholeness of another. To remember that union is meant to be harmonious, for the creation and celebration of new life and believe that it can be so.
May we declare freedom and independence in a voice of love and harmony, moving us forward from this grand pause into a truly more perfect union of, with and for all.