237 Years Later…What Are We Celebrating?

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.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

237 years after the Declaration of Independence (excerpted above) was formally adopted, I can’t help but to shutter at how far we’ve drifted from these sentiments. As I browsed through my Facebook and Twitter feeds this morning I saw lots of patriotic smiley faces and skewed definitions of freedom. While I am extremely grateful to live in a country that allows me to browse the Internet and express my controversial thoughts, I am in no way a proud American.

I can’t bring myself to celebrate a country that was founded on the backs of chattel slaves and sustained on that of  ideological ones. When contemplating my supposed freedom, I can’t help but to think of the 166 prisoners suffering at Guantánamo Bay, 86 of whom have been cleared for transfer. When I hear the fireworks go off tonight I’ll have to wonder if the LAPD is gunning down more unarmed Black men or if my neighbors are just having a good time polluting the sky.

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

-Martin Luther King, Jr.

I stopped reciting the Pledge of Allegiance years ago. I was at a USC football game when I realized that I didn’t consider myself loyal to a nation that would rather spend billions killing innocent Pakistani children than educating their own. To be honest, I have lost all hope in my country’s ability to enforce the self-evident truth that all “men [and women] are created equal.” My faith lies in God and in the people who will be responsible for the greatest revolution this nation has ever seen.

They will rebuild the ancient ruins
and restore the places long devastated;
they will renew the ruined cities
that have been devastated for generations.

Isaiah 61:4

While there is nothing wrong in enjoying a day off from work and counting your blessings, don’t allow the joy of your liberties to distract you from exercising them. The American masses have become experts in complacency. The very rights we are celebrating today could be stripped from us tomorrow if we do not take it upon ourselves to actively defend them. Google the recent ruling on the Civil Rights Act if you don’t believe me.

Believe it or not, I am not trying to ruin your holiday; I seek to enrich it. Imagine an America that is institutionally just and upright, a nation that solves its own problems before worsening everyone else’s. Picture a country that nurtures its true founding fathers instead of imprisoning them en masse. I challenge you to conceptualize the impossible and then pledge to make it happen. We owe it to our children to fight for our rights while we still have the power to do so.

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn…

Isaiah 61:1-2

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