Independence DayJuly 1, 2015
Over the upcoming July 4th weekend we will be celebrating independence from the rule of a colonizing power thousands of miles away, and freedom from tyranny and political oppression, the two bedrock principles upon which our country’s core identity has been fashioned. They are rooted in an understanding of the inviolable dignity of each human person and a basic set of inalienable rights that flow therefrom.
While these values of independence and freedom are key to the framework of our civic narrative, they stand in a somewhat separate context from some of the central principles that emerge from our perspective of faith. Persons of faith understand the world and our places therein as a complex mosaic of connections and a thickly intertwined fabric of dependent relationships. We may be politically separated and uniquely constituted from other nations, but we are not dissociated from them. No person or nation is an island. The identities of all persons are so intimately and inseparably interrelated, so as to make us sisters and brothers, relationships that might be ignored but can never be erased.
Pope Francis, who has captured the imagination and idealism of all people of goodwill, has warned of an increasingly pervasive “global indifference,” in which we progressively isolate ourselves from others, particularly from those who suffer and live at the margins of our society. Some of this is the result of an unconscious defense mechanism we create in response to the overwhelming tragedies that are occurring throughout the world. But we must not let the immensity of the effects of terrorism, corruption, violent regional conflicts, racial hatred, greed and natural disasters dull our appreciation of the simple and incontrovertible fact that, if any one of us suffers, we all suffer.
Appreciating the reality of our interconnectedness reminds us that we are in fact dependent upon one another, a fact that we grudgingly admit, but want to keep to as small a circle as we can. Such tight control is ultimately futile, however, because our individual need -- our poverty, if you will – is great. We need to love and to be loved; we need to have the support of companions on our journey and to accompany others on theirs; we need others to cry with us when we grieve and to rejoice with us in our accomplishments and others need the same from us.
And so, because of our mutual relationships and interdependence the freedoms we enjoy are not our own but for the benefit of all. We are freed from selfishness and greed, from insecurity and fear, from anxiety and doubt, from narcissism and indifference. We are freed into love and hope and peace. We, who have been made in the image of God, are freed into God’s likeness, into universal solidarity and unbroken harmony with all of our sisters and brothers, freed to allow ourselves to be engulfed by and into the dream of God.
Happy Independence Day!
Jerry Kearney, D.Min.
Vice President, Mission Integration
Saint Thomas Health