On this Day of Independence, we must note that our independence—from tyranny and oppression—always comes at a price. Freedom is not cheap! But this does not mean that we must spend more on the instruments of war. The poet Audre Lorde reminds us that we cannot dismantle the master’s house using the master’s tools. Instead, we must acknowledge that our independence depends on our inter-dependence. The house of the master—George III, the slave owner, the defender of Jim Crow—is always a house divided. As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. observed, none of us is free until all are free!
So let us declare July 4, 2017, a Day of Interdependence. The Christian, the Muslim and the Jew—Abraham’s spiritual descendants—are interdependent on one another for their mutual flourishing. The gay, the straight and the transgender are all interdependent in their common desire for loving and lasting relationships. The Democrat and the Republican, the Socialist and the Libertarian must acknowledge that the freedom of one depends on the freedom of all. Black Lives mattering depends on Blue Lives mattering (and vice versa).
Yes, all lives matter. Yet it’s a good thing for a noble but imperfect society to ask whether, in our courts of justice and on the streets of our cities, some lives currently matter more than others.
Whether we place a hand over our hearts or lower a knee to the ground when we sing the hymn of our great nation, we acknowledge the sacrifice that has come before us along with the work that lies ahead of us. Even if the dream of a perfect union appears to be a dream deferred in this chapter of our shared history, let us agree that perfecting our union entails lifting up the least of us so that all of us might thrive. This is the message of all our prophets, and we do well to remember their divine wisdom on the day set aside for the remembrance of the foundations of our liberty.
Cecil Murray is retired from the USC Center for Religion and Civic Culture.