Two hundred forty years ago today, a group of men signed their names to a simple document. The Declaration of Independence was a response to tyranny, but the purpose of this post is not to review all the historical reasons for the Declaration or the war that followed.
No, today I am thinking about the tyranny we currently face: The tyranny of fear. No matter where you stand on the religious or political spectra, you face demagogues screaming about who or what you are supposed to fear. Muslims, Jews, LGBTQ people, those nonexistent transgender women sneaking into our public bathrooms to assault our girl children. Homeschoolers. Public schools. Christians. Pagans. Gun owners, gun control supporters. Pro-choice. Pro-life. Cops. Gang members. Immigrants. Refugees. The homeless. The insane. The religious right, the religious left. Right wing fanatics, left wing nut jobs ... You name it. Whoever you are, someone is telling you who to fear.
And where has it gotten us? The United States of America is no longer so united. We are fractured, splintered into factions in every direction. No one discusses important topics rationally - there is only screaming, incoherence, and name-calling. We are pitted against each other instead of those who actually do possess ill will toward us. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate. We are bombarded with hate in our media, to the point where it's almost as if nothing good exists anymore.
Brothers, sisters, those who identify as both or neither, I invite you today to join me in declaring your independence from fear. No longer will I listen to the irrational messages of fear and hate. All the groups I named above? They're all just people. Most of them are trying to live as best they can. Why hate them? Isn't love a better answer?
Non-Christians, you may look away for a moment. I got something to say to my brothers and sisters in Christ. Shame on you. Shame on you for buying into the rhetoric, for forgetting that our Lord says "Love your enemies. Do good to those who persecute you." The Bible says "do not be afraid" 70 times. SEVENTY. Check out the verses. What gives you the right to be afraid? Is not God your refuge, a stronghold in the day of trouble? If not, you need to spend some time in the Scripture to remind yourself who you claim to serve.
OK. Is everybody paying attention again? Good. Now, I am not talking about the healthy fear that keeps you out of dangerous situations. I'm talking about the fear that underlies your interactions with people you don't agree with, or don't understand, or plain just don't like for whatever reason. I'm talking about the fear that makes you dangerous.
Here;s my promise to you: I will not live in fear. I will not give in to the hateful rhetoric being vomited by those who would be our leaders, in whatever arena. I invite you to join me in a new American Revolution - against fear, anger, and hate.
Remember that the United States of America was founded to be a haven for anyone who was oppressed. We are supposed to be a nation of hope and love and acceptance. Imagine what we could accomplish if enough of us chose to live that ideal in our personal lives. THAT is what will make America great again.
Happy Independence Day, y'all.