As the 4th of July approaches, my heart is heavy with the plight of so many seeking basic freedoms and having these freedoms denied by the actions (and inactions) of the United States government. It is devastating to see the ways people’s human rights are being denied at the hands of the United States, especially as our weekly Bible study group has been reading the Bible alongside the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It was disturbing, but not shocking, to hear that the U.S. no longer wants to endorse this Declaration given the ways our government violates its articles on so many levels.
I know the crafters of the Declaration of Independence did not intend to include all people in its lofty pronouncement that “all men are created equal…endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights,” yet I refuse to accept that these words are mere propaganda. They are ideals that many Americans cling to, in their most expansive sense. And while they may still be aspirational, they are aspirations worth fighting for, worth demanding of our government, worth birthing ever more fully into existence in our country.
As a child, I daily pledged myself to my country: a republic that promotes liberty and justice for all. I feel it my patriotic duty, this 4th of July, to decry the lack of liberty and justice in my country, and prayerfully commit myself to the work of liberation, in service to the God of Liberation.
To this end, I would like to walk around Lake Merritt seven times this 4th of July – reminiscent of the ancient Israelites circling Jericho seven times before its walls came tumbling down – prayerfully surrounding this symbolic center of my community, denouncing acts of injustice perpetrated by my country and demanding my country restore basic human rights to all its residents.
I will walk a lap for each of the following groups who continue to be denied freedom and justice in significant ways:
- for migrants seeking safety, security and a better life
- for Black and Brown lives suffering from systemic racism and police brutality
- for Palestinians and all members of the international community seeking justice, equality and freedom
- for indigenous people seeking to honor their sacred lands
- for the poor who seek shelter, food and good education
- for women everywhere seeking equality for themselves and opportunities for their families
- for the earth, which cries out from exploitation
I originally planned to walk alone, inviting anyone who wanted to join me in a lap to do so as they were interested. Yet since planning this sacred prayer walk, I have developed tendinitis in my right heel, which may prevent me from completing all seven laps. I now invite you to not only walk with me, but if you are willing, to spot while walking or perhaps walk a lap on my behalf, if I am unable to complete my journey on my own. I still hope to complete the full journey, but if I have to rely on my church community to help me as I pray for justice in our country, I can find deep spiritual and poetic beauty in that, as well.
I plan to begin walking at Cleveland Cascade at 10 a.m. and will begin each subsequent lap from there roughly on the hour. Please let me know if you would like to join me as I walk, pray and protest this 4th of July.
May we who believe in freedom (and justice) not rest until it comes.