Fourth of July Mindfulness
Good Morning. Today is a holiday…the Fourth of July. This is the holiday that recognizes our independence from Britain and the birth of our new, independent country. I learned from my son who is studying U.S. History, that men who wrote our Declaration of Independence completed it on July 2. John Adams thought that July 2 would be one of the most important dates to be remembered and honored. In fact, it took two more days for Congress to approve the document and for the U.S. to announce her freedom. So, it wasn’t actually ready for primetime until the Fourth.
This makes me think about the constitution. It took 12 years from our Declaration of Independence until the ratification of the U.S. Constitution. From our birth, we have been existing as a well-intentioned work of progress. We are still in development. Each amendment has been an evolution in development for our country.
In 1852, Frederick Douglass, in a powerful speech, called, What, to the slave, is your 4th of July? Douglass said,
What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer: a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless…”
He drew a contrast between the promise of freedom and equality in our country and the reality. It took another 13 years before the 13th amendment was passed and slavery was abolished. A slowly moving and changing work in progress.
You may be thinking what does all this have to do with mindfulness practice? We have practiced self-compassion all week long. From mindful compassion springs compassion for others.
Today, many people have reached another watershed moment of realization that the promise of equality under our law is not actualized. People in our country are suffering. The political rhetoric makes it hard to see or believe we are one nation, undivided. Is it possible to celebrate our country today in the face of this suffering? Mindfulness teaches us nonjudgment, but it also teaches discernment. So for today, your task in mindfulness is to carefully observe yourself and your experience throughout the day. Celebrate the ideals of equality and the rights delineated in the work of progress that is the United States of America, but also stay mindful of where we are in development. Stay connected to the reality of our country for all who live here.
Watch David Diggs in a short video called, What to My People is the Fourth of July based on Douglass’ words for today. Watch and observe your feelings, judgments, and emotions.
Your reactions will likely be very personal. Take a moment to observe them. If you like, write about your experience or discuss your experience to others. Today I will be celebrating the ideals of freedom and thinking about what will have to happen in order to have everyone feel included and protected under the promise of our Constitution.