Woe to you, for you build monuments for the prophets – the very ones your own people put to death! Luke 11:47
Last week I came across a piece of history: words written back in 1855 by the great, black editor and abolishionist, Frederick Douglass. They are harsh, convicting words guaranteed to put a damper on nearly anyone’s Fourth of July Celebration
“What to the American slave is your Fourth of July? I answer, a day that reveals to him more than all other days of the year the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty an unholy license; your national greatness, your sound of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciation of tyrants, brass-fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parades and solemnity, are to him mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy—a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages.”
As harsh as Douglass’ words are, they are important for us to remember, this week in particular because they remind us that “the great American experiment”, the revolution that we celebrate each July, is either a continuing proposition or it is nothing at all. Human trafficking, the rising sex-trade, and increasing poverty in our own country all challenge our resolve to continue the revolution into the future rather than simply celebrate its past. So how will we respond to that challenge? Looking forward or looking back?
Grace and Peace