I grew up beneath the poverty level in America; I recall watching the news one evening as the commentator stated the poverty level income for a family of four in America, so I walked into the other room to ask my mother how much “we” made that year as family of five, and she gave me a number lower than what I had just heard on the news. I’ve since seen abject poverty in this world and understand on many levels why my mom insisted that we weren’t poor; we never went without food and our utilities were never turned off from lack of payment. As they were devout Catholics, my parents somehow even found a way to send us to a Catholic school.
Still, I felt like we were sometimes looked down upon by others. When it came time to think about life after high school, the guidance counselor did her best to convince me that I was not college material, despite my >4.0 GPA and high SAT scores. I was fortunate that Vice Principal Tully did not look at me as white trash like the school counselor did, and he showed me what I needed to do to apply for college. My wrestling coach, Mr. Craft, encouraged me to graduate a semester early to take advantage of college benefits for low income families that would disappear if I waited until the second semester to graduate.
Perhaps because of this, I have always been sensitive to the rights of others and have empathy for people who have had to work harder to rise up. Regardless of race, gender or beliefs that differed from mine, I have used whatever influence I have to lift up and encourage my brothers and sisters, to open up opportunities and to be their advocate. I still believe in the ideals America was founded upon, despite the many ways that people have failed to live up to those ideals. That is why Juneteenth should be celebrated as widely in this country as July 4th. The two are linked and combine a common ideal.
The Declaration of Independence was signed on July 4th, 1776 and proclaimed that every person had rights that were innate in every person. Sadly, some of those signing that great document were hypocrites, slave owners who declared an ideal for themselves that they did not extend to all men. The original document penned by Thomas Jefferson included an anti-slavery proclamation that unfortunately wasn’t included in the final document. You see, while some of the founding fathers embraced slavery, many were abolitionists: John Adams, Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr, James Madison, John Jay, Patrick Henry, Benjamin Franklin, and many more.
The war against slavery was fought by white and black Americans before that famous declaration on July 4th, good people who sought to end the evils of slavery that came to the Americas through the British empire. Like many wars, it was a war of ideals that was fought with words and ultimately resulted in a civil war. As that war came to an end, Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation was announced by Union soldiers, freeing the slaves and finally acknowledging the inalienable rights of every American. The last place to receive this word was Galveston, TX on June 19th, 1965, now commemorated as Juneteenth. Yet as we know, while the ideal of liberty was proclaimed for all Americans, man’s wickedness continued and the rights of our black brothers and sisters continued to be violated. My prayer is that each of us stands firm in actively upholding the rights of all people, actively opposing evil for our collective well-being and living out the love Christ calls us to have for all people.
People are imperfect and often conflicted; our conflicting priorities are often magnified whenever you pull a group of people together. Yet despite how we have lived this nation’s ideals imperfectly, those lofty standards continue to be a light, both for people within this country and throughout the world,. Our nation rightly and collectively recoiled at the senseless and brutal murder of George Floyd and we had a chance to unify in opposing this terrible violation of his rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. My mind still reels with how long it took authorities to bring the rogue cops into custody, and my heart is saddened by those who oppose the great ideals of this country, who are using this event to create greater division within the country. Some are actively driving an agenda that mimics Marxist revolutions throughout the world while others are being incensed into their narrative. Although it may have certain nuances, the story is always the same: a class struggle between the “haves” and “have nots”, the privileged vs the oppressed, the persecutors vs their victims. Likewise, the result is nearly always the same: a group of thugs that take totalitarian control and become magnitudes more oppressive than the preceding regime… e.g. – the blood purges of Stalin, the Khmer Rouge of Cambodia, and the assault-rifle-wielding occupiers of Seattle.
Now is a time to use unifying language and collaborate under higher ideals, to acknowledge our flaws and seek to be better. Now is a time build trust and seek restoration rather than reparation. Nothing can possibly make up for the evils of the past, and bitterness leads to greater division. We can’t change the past as much as we all wish we could, but we can decide how to move forward as equals. Now is a time to remember who were meant to be: E Pluribus Unum! (One from Many)
At some point, I believe America will fall from superpower status and a global authority will fill that void, and I believe much of what is currently happening in both American and abroad is a tension created by globalists trying to subdue nationalism. The ideals found in America’s heritage embody a rationale and structure that strive for the rights of all people. Someday, I believe and pray that America will be resurrected from its current state of splintering decline and be unified in brotherly love; I see Isaiah 18 possibly referring to the United States, and it promises a time when we will bring tribute to King Jesus in Israel. Then and only then, when the King sits on His throne will we truly be free!
copyright ©2020 Mitchell Malloy (http://mitchellmalloyblogspot.com/)