Lessons Learned on July 4th, 2020 -Part I

It is becoming a cliché to say that we are living in a special—if chaotic—time. But we are.  And such a time is often a time for learning—as Meister Eckhart says, “if you want the kernel, you must break the shell.”  A lot of shells are being broken through these days and some of it came to a kind of head on July 4th.

On July 5, 1852, Frederick Douglass gave a keynote address at an Independence Day celebration and asked, “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?”   The Riverside Church put together a video montage reading a few excerpts that were particularly relevant to today, in Frederick Douglass’ exact words, and used previous examples from readings by both James Earl and Danny Glover.

So often in the past July 4th was a sentimental holiday remembering by way of parades and flag waving and fireworks in celebration of our birth as a nation and remembrance of those who have defended it including our nation’s soldiers who in many wars having fallen or sacrificed deeply for defending the nation and its principles enshrined in the constitution.

But July 4, 2020, thanks to the Black Lives Matter movement and the myriad responses to evidence that black lives don’t matter—namely the marches and protests over the land and far away in rage against the murder of George Floyd by smug policemen in Minneapolis—and the consequent learning taking place especially by white people much else was afoot on this national holiday. 

Birth of a Nation – Graphic Design by Michael Doughty. Follow on Instagram via @MoreThanMiked.

I for one was struck to listen to a black commentator tell us how differently her community interprets July 4 than did the mainstream of my community over the years.  As she pointed out, enslaved black people and their descendants did not feel the “Independence” of Independence Day.  Quite the opposite. 

That might be the best argument yet for naming Juneteenth as a National Holiday—because that day—Juneteenth day when the last blacks in the country learned that they were freed from slavery by the Emancipation Proclamation–heard the news for the first time, albeit a full two years after the fact.

A sour note was very much in our faces when the president chose to invade sacred Native American land to create his photo-op and deliver a rant against peaceful protestors.  Their sin has been to remind all of us of how far the promise of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” and the declaration that “all men and women are created equal” was from having touched whole segments of our population. 

Stan Rushworth shares Prayer for The Earth: An Indigenous Response to the Times

The president chose to manifest his diatribe, no doubt written by the white supremacist in the White House, Mr. Miller, on a stage created to accentuate the carving of four presidents in the sacred mountain of the Lakota peoples.  A carving, I learned only today, that was accomplished by a white supremacist 100 years ago. 

Then cometh the cheering crowds packed together sans masks amidst news that Donald Trump Jr’s girlfriend has now tested for coronavirus and that America is “Number One” and “exceptional” for sure because the virus is now attacking 50,000 Americans per day. 

Does a death-wish loom among the president’s fervent followers (the governor of South Dakota among them)?

A spectacle to behold, this July 4th, 2020.  Many lessons to learn.  To be continued.

See Matthew Fox, Meditations with Meister Eckhart.

Banner Image: The upside down flag is a symbol of a country in distress. Photo originally posted to Flickr by Derek Simeone.

Queries for Contemplation

What are your further meditations on this July 4th 2020? 

Recommended Reading

Meditations with Meister Eckhart: A Centering Book

A centering book by Matthew Fox. This book of simple but rich meditations exemplifies the deep yet playful creation-centered spirituality of Meister Eckhart, Meister Eckhart was a 13th-century Dominican preacher who was a mystic, prophet, feminist, activist, defender of the poor, and advocate of creation-centered spirituality, who was condemned shortly after he died.
“These quiet presentations of spirituality are remarkable for their immediacy and clarity.” –Publishers Weekly.  

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6 thoughts on “Lessons Learned on July 4th, 2020 -Part I”

  1. Avatar

    Fatalistic self-hatred seems to me a good way to describe what is going on, and projection of that hatred is doing untold damage from the rape of the good earth with no limitations now on any kind of pollution to the callous disregard for health and life itself. It also makes me think of lemmings racing toward the cliff–but I do not want to go over the edge with them.

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Sue, thank you for your comment. When we look at what is going on in the world–the exploitation of the earth, water and sky, racism and the blatant disregard for life in view of the pandemic, we do look like lemmings rushing towards the brink of a cliff BUT because we each have the privilege of walking the Via Transformativa, we can change ourselves and the world for the good of all conerned…

  2. Avatar

    Good morning
    I don’t know if you can get this program in your country
    It from The BBC England iplayer it’s called
    The forgotten history of slave owners by David Adetayo Olusoga OBE

    Anyway I’ll throw this into the pot check
    Collective Karma
    is the result of making a decision to act in a certain way. Decisions to act may be made by individuals or by groups. If the decision is made by a group, then the whole group will experience the collective consequences of their decision.
    The key is to understand our interconnectedness. My neighbor’s action would have an effect on me, and my action will have an effect on my neighbor. It makes sense to look at the entire world as an ecosystem. We may believe that we are each an individual player in this system. But any thing that happens to any of the players in the system will have an effect on me. Most of us probably think of mosquitoes as annoying little critters. But would it be a good idea to annihilate the mosquitoes? Remember, many other animals feed on mosquitoes — the frogs, the birds, the bats, the dragonflies, etc. Eliminating all mosquitoes also means eliminating a food source for all these other animals. What will be the chain effect? What are the ramifications?

    I think that the whole idea of collective karma needs to be emphasized today. It is part of system thinking. It is also part of good environmental thinking and ecological thinking. It is a good reminder of Buddha’s teaching of Dependent Origination — things arise or fall, not by themselves, but together with and are dependent on everything else. Using a Hindu metaphor, we live in Indra’s Net. Especially today, we ought to cultivate a sense of togetherness. Man does not live alone. He lives together with the other animals, the plants, the rivers and the mountains. We share a common home. Very good reason to be extra careful in doing things which may harm our neighbors.

    Repatriation ( Wikipedia) Compensation
    is the process of returning an asset, an item of symbolic value, or a person—voluntarily or forcibly—to its owner or their place of origin or citizenship. The term may refer to non-human entities, such as converting a foreign currency into the currency of one’s own country, as well as to the process of returning military personnel to their place of origin following a war. It also applies to diplomatic envoys, international officials as well as expatriates and migrants in time of international crisis.

    Injustice / Repatriation
    Native Americans
    African American
    Asian Indian
    Many hundreds of colonised countries
    Add your own
    If we don’t Repatriate
    People /Nations will not be healed or at peace
    Stay safe

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Billy, thank you for your thoughts “collective karma” or what is sometimes also called “corporate guilt.” It is true that just as we as individuals can do wrong things, so can groups do wrong things. You are also right in saying we must repatriate or compensate the various minorities which white America has wronged…

  3. Avatar
    Don E. Johnson

    Thank you for your Daily Meditations. I note a small ‘fact check’ issue just for the record.
    ABC News reported that Kimberly Guilfoyle, Donald Trump Jr.’s girlfriend (not Donald Trump’s daughter in law, tested positive for coronavirus. I mention this not because it matters as to the point you are making. However, it does matter as to the verasity of the report if it can be undermined by those looking to do so on the basis of an untentional mistatement of fact. My wife has recently focused much of her fine work on Facebook with the statement of where a fact came from or asking someone making a claim to state their sources. In a time of Trump ‘facts’, it it all the more important to take the extra step of getting it as right as we can. Again, this in no way is to destract from your meditations. But maybe it will be a teachable moment for all of us… myself definitely included. Thanks.

    1. Avatar

      Hello Don,
      Thank you for letting us know of this error; while the email can’t be corrected, the correction will be made on the blog.
      Phila Hoopes
      Blog Coordinator

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