Why July 4th is NOT my True Independence Day

(Alternate Blog Title: What Moving to Atlanta, Driving along the Trail of Tears, and visiting a Penitentiary taught me about Independence Day)

Personally, although I enjoy so many blessings by having been born in the USA, I don’t call today – July 4th in particular – Independence Day.

Moving to Atlanta, which once had been a city filled with slavery, and some of the history of the Civil Rights Movement I am learning here has helped establish this opinion of mine. I also now live so near the starting place of the Trail of Tears where so many Native Americans were driven from their Homeland and many lost their lives in the process.

In fact, this past weekend when I took some back roads to Tennessee to visit with my Dad, some historical markers let me know that I was driving part of the route of the actual trail of tears. I don’t know if it’s the strong longing for justice I have in me or the bit of Native American in my bloodline, but that knowing gave me chills.

Also, one of the places my Dad wanted to visit on his birthday weekend was the historic Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary which has now been closed and made into a museum. As we were sitting in the room watching the presentation and history of the place, we were told that the last use of the room we sat in before the prison closed was a chapel. And, in that place, over 1000 inmates – some of whom would die there and never know another day of physical freedom on earth, found true freedom in that place as they were baptized into faith in Christ. So those men their Independence Day behind imposing prison bars and razor wire.

So, to me – today is not Independence Day. Because there are so many countries and people who have no chance at the freedoms many of us in this country know, largely due to the fact that we often choose to pour the wealth our freedom creates back into ourselves.

So, although July 4th is the date The States became independent of Great Britain, I cannot – in good conscience – refer to it as Independence Day.

But there is good news! Because of the resilient human spirit breathed into us by our Maker and the freedom and purpose made available to us through the sacrifice of Jesus, every single day can be our Independence Day!

From the history that has formed our lives but doesn’t have to define our lives… from the hurts, habits, and hang-ups that bless us with brokenness that keeps us dependent on our Maker to soar even higher in life by His Spirit instead of our own futile efforts… from having to be in control… by surrendering to our Maker, we can call each and every day Independence Day.

So, tonight – rather than attend fireworks, I will attend my Celebrate Recovery meeting at my church as I do on most Thursday nights to enjoy the authentic fellowship and solid teaching and principles that enable me to find true freedom to rise above hurts, habits, and hangups. And, the first weekend in August I will join others at historic Ebenezer Baptist Church for the 400 Conference by the One Race Movement because almost exactly 400 years to the day the first slaves were brought to these shores. You see, I believe the best celebration of freedom isn’t commemorating a date when some politicians signed some papers. Rather, a true celebration of freedom looks to me like definitive steps taken to obtain and maintain true freedom for ALL.

Today, tomorrow, forever – let’s choose to live free so we can truly say “Happy Independence Day”, friends!

🇺🇸🦋💕

Let’s Start Asking Better Questions

http://usuncut.com/black-lives-matter/united-nations-us-should-give-reparations/

This thought-provoking article makes some really good points. I am so glad my pastor, Derrick Golden, shared it on his Facebook page.

Because… it saddens me (but doesn’t surprise me) that I wasn’t yet aware this was even a consideration or discussion.  I am praying for healing from mass cluelessness in my country… especially among my race.  Scales need to fall off eyes, minds and hearts – just like happened for the Apostle Paul in the Bible in his “Saul days” when he thought that killing Christians was a righteous thing to do.

And please don’t tell me “They should just get over it” or “stuff like this rips the scab off”. That’s as heartless as telling the millions of Americans who still weep on Patriot Day over the atrocities of 9-11 to “get over it”. 

There is a collective mindset of accepted devaluation that needs to change before we will see impactful and lasting change in this country. Let me illustrate: When the New York/New Jersey bomber was taken into custody in recent days – he was shot in the leg. There is a strong likelihood that there were orders out there (and rightly so) to “take him alive if possible” because he could be holding on to valuable information about other possible plans to harm people. So… careful aim was taken in order to stop him from escaping and causing possible harm to others while preserving his life so questions could be asked. Those officers demonstrated the ability – in the heat of the moment when they had to think and act quickly – to make a decision to preserve rather than end life because there was value involved. In the emotion and intensity of that moment there was likely something in those officers that wanted to kill the perpetrator of such a horrible act against other humans – but they did not because they had important questions to ask him. So I would implore officers to make every attempt to use non-lethal force. That way, there will be the opportunity before any triggers are pulled or other potentially tragic actions taken to ask two valuable human beings (yourself and the person entrusted to your protection) this important question: “Is anything being done that justifies such a drastic response or are assumptions being made based on appearances and preconceptions?”. 

Now, are the reparations in the article the answer? I honestly don’t know. I mean… how can I know?  I – and many who share my skin tone – haven’t even been asking the the right questions… or even thinking much about this important issue at all, for that matter. So we shouldn’t be claiming to have any answers. But we should begin listening to the questions many broken hearts are asking.

“I did not come here to offer you clichés. I will not pretend to know of all your pain.”

“I did not come here to offer you clichés. I will not pretend to know of all your pain.” (Sara Groves)   But I will pray. And I will weep with you. I will stand with you. And I apologize to you…. not only on behalf of those who share my skin tone who have committed atrocities against you, but on my own behalf. For any moments of silence that screamed my indifference: I am sorry. For apathy and lack of action against an injust system: I am sorry. #JustSoSorry #ApathyEndsHere #DefyDenial #DoSomething