Today, my sense of patriotism has been radically altered, by twenty years of working in a radical bicycle collective whose members included Socialists, Wobblies and other shades of radical activist and by my own awakening vision of a world with fewer and fewer borders and more peace.
Am I naive? Yes.
Am I stupid? No.
I still believe, more than ever, that all human beings matter, that unchecked capitalism creates and sustains poverty, and that racism is a scourge that must be educated out of us. Are these things possible? Not right now. Sorry.
The world, and especially our nation, is far too polarized for that change to come about in my lifetime.
But as we are instructed in Pirke Avot 2:21, “You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to desist from it.”
And so the work -- the education, art, music, protest and activism -- continues.
On this Independence Day, let us remember that there are those living among us who are not free and who are not independent. Let us commit ourselves to the work of making our neighbors and fellow Americans free. And above all, let us do the work of freeing ourselves and each other from old assumptions, fears and prejudices that hold us all back. If we can do that, then we can reach outward and help the rest of the world.
Speedily and in our day, O God.