It’s 5:01, Friday morning, April 2. Her left leg slides over the edge of the bed and heads downstairs to put on her running shoes. Her right leg, not fully in agreement, heads for the TV room to watch the morning news. Her left arm goes down to the front door to retrieve the morning paper. Her right arm, always the creature of habit, heads for the bathroom to brush her teeth and comb her hair. It’s 5:01 and America is awake.

But her right leg discovers it can’t go for a run because it has no arms to put its shoes on; her left leg can’t watch TV because there’s no hand to work the remote; her left arm can’t retrieve the paper because there are no legs to carry it onto the porch; and her right arm can’t brush her teeth because, lying on the floor, it can’t see the mirror.

America’s now dismembered body has awoken to a new reality. E unum pluribus, out of one, many.

Her “declaration of independence” has come home to haunt.

To a land where the river runs free

To a land through the green country

You and me are free to be

You and me.*

The death toll in America from the global COVID-19 pandemic is rapidly approaching 600,000 who died, killing each other, in this Civil War. And in spite of our ability to develop incredibly effective vaccines and reduce the death toll by something as simple as wearing a mask, nearly a third of us refuse both the mask and the vaccine.

America’s “declaration of independence” has come home to hunt.

To a land to a shining sea

To a land where the horses run free

You and me are free to be,

You and me.

Boulder Colorado passes a law banning assault-style weapons and high-capacity magazines. A federal judge overturns it as a constitutional infringement on Second Amendment rights. Six days later, a 21-year-old American, expressing that right, buys an assault weapon and kills 10 people he did not know — some waiting in line to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

America’s “declaration of independence” has come home to horrify.

To a land where the children are free

And you and me are free to be

You and me.

“According to Hindu doctrine, every action performed upon the external world reacts on the doer. Everything I do for my private well-being adds another layer to my ego, and in thickening it insulates me more from God. Conversely, every act done without thought for myself diminishes my self-centeredness until finally no barrier remains to separate me from the Divine.” (Huston Smith)**

There was a story in this morning’s news about a 10-year-old boy in Boulder, Colorado who wanted to do something following the deadly shooting in a King Soopers grocery store. He purchased a lot of flowers, visited two other King Soopers stores and passed out flowers to their employees as concrete show of support. Ten years old.

Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love (St. Francis). Ten years old!

“The Chinese have a character that represents empathy/sympathy, called hsin. Hsin, in a fully realized person, expands in concentric circles that begin with oneself and spread from there to include successively one’s family, one’s face-to-face community, one’s nation, and finally all humanity. In shifting the center of one’s empathic concern from oneself to one’s family, one transcends selfishness. The move from family to community transcends nepotism. The move from community to nation overcomes parochialism, and the move to all humanity counters chauvinistic nationalism” (Huston Smith). Ten years old!

“One of the great questions that divides almost every assemblage of people is whether people are independent or interdependent. Some people are more aware of their individuality; for them, their freedom and initiative is more important than their bondings. The obvious corollary is that they see people as making their own ways through life; what each achieves will be largely of his or her own doing. On the other side of the fence are those for whom life’s interconnectedness prevails. To them the separateness of people seems tenuous; they see themselves as supported and vectored by social fields that are as strong as those of physics.” (Huston Smith) Ten years old!

We need a lot more 10-year-olds. And open minds and hearts.

Will America find her “declaration of interdependence?” E pluribus unum? In a land where the children run free?

*With apologies to Marlo Thomas for using her beautiful anthem to illustrate a very different point.

**Quotes from: The World’s Religions, Huston Smith, 1991.

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