July 4th is the day we celebrate independence, the day of BBQ's and fireworks, the day we remember our history. It is the day of community gatherings and parades, the day when we come together, often as strangers, to enjoy the park, the beach, and the events.
Today is July 5th, but nothing has really changed! We are still the same country, we still have liberties, we still have a justice system and we can still pursue happiness. So why does today look so different? Why do 24 hours make such a difference?
We all seem to be running--running to get things done, to make more money (or enough to pay the rent), running from event to event, day to day, week to week--without ever stopping to celebrate what we have.
We are busy "pursuing happiness" only to find that we are missing out on justice, and that the liberties we have really mean imprisonment for others.
How do we live "the day after" or better yet, the next 364 days, in a way
that reflects the real values of America? It never was about how much faster we can run to pursue our ever more elusive dreams, it was always about a bigger picture--justice for everyone, opportunity for everyone, liberties for everyone.
There is so much talk about the welfare system, the healthcare reform, the agenda of the future president, that we often forget the here and now.
When have you actually looked into the eyes of a homeless person instead of just handing him a buck? When was the last time you heard the story of a drug addict, listened to his pain, heard his struggles instead of condemning him? When was the last time you helped a senior citizen, not because she was not moving fast enough in the checkout line, but because she had a story to tell that might teach you something?
I am finding myself tired of politics, where people are numbers and only measured by outcomes, where the individual dream does not matter as much as the results that are required to fulfill the grant requirements, where we herd people through appointments and systems only to give them one more handout.
My experience with people is that we all want to pursue happiness, that we don't always want a handout but rather that we want to relearn how to live on our own feet, and that there is much more potential and ability in people than we can ever imagine.
That is why at LifeLine we don't give handouts (except in emergencies), because we know that dignity is more important than hot dog buns, and that their dreams and values are as valid as yours and mine.
So for the next 364 days I want to act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with a creator God who is for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness (although happiness might look much different from His perspective).
Want to come along?