Thursday, July 2, 2015


The weekend is coming, and so Independence Day celebrations are in full effect. This date is special in both of our home countries - Independence Day in the United States is also Liberation Day in Rwanda - the day the 1994 genocide was ended. But, right? There's always a "but."

Because, in the US, among other things, churches burn. In Rwanda, people still suffer from fear and distrust and insecurity.

Independence, Liberty, Justice, the ideals that much of humanity would be willing to fight for, are not ever ultimately won with wars.

We happen to be in the US, so we will be experiencing the Fourth celebrations from this side of the planet. Yesterday, we took the kids into Philly to see the Liberty Bell - one of those touristy things that we'd never done. While we waited in the long line, we viewed displays about civil rights. You see, the Liberty Bell originally hung in the Pennsylvania Statehouse, just meters away from our country's original "White House" - and the place where many slaves were imprisoned. The exhibit reminded us that the Liberty Bell stands for both liberties won and liberties withheld. At the time the Liberty Bell was paraded around the country, expanding its notable crack, slavery was legal, women weren't allowed to vote, interracial marriage was a crime, etc. And today, two hundred years later, churches burn.

Liberty & Justice for all.

It's been an intense week on facebook since the SCOTUS ruling. I won't go into my own feelings and opinions here (although I always love an interesting in-person discussion), but I do want to explore one of the ideas I find difficult. Many of my facebook friends lament the dying of the  "values this country was built on," and suggest God's coming judgment. What has been circling my brain of late - and was brought to the surface at the Liberty Bell - is that there is a difference between ideals and values. The American ideal might be liberty and justice for all. But the values demonstrated by both history and current events include racism, sexism, and materialism. This country (and all of us on this spinning planet) certainly deserve God's judgment, but a ruling on gay marriage doesn't strike me as more worthy of judgment than much of the chapter titles of our history textbooks or the headlines of our newspapers.

Liberty & Justice for all must be granted in our hearts before it can become real in our land.