Monday is July the Fourth, Independence Day in the United States of America, when we celebrate our Declaration of Independence, which includes these words:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
All men, all people.
Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness … (NRSV)
And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness … (American Standard Version/King James Version)
Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness… (New King James Version)
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. (English Standard Version)
Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness … (New International Version)
Then God said, “Let us make humanity in our image to resemble us … (Common English Bible)
God said, “Now we will make humans, and they will be like us. .. (Contempary English Version)
Then God said, “And now we will make human beings; they will be like us and resemble us. (Good News Translation)
God spoke: “Let us make human beings in our image, make them reflecting our nature. … (The Message)
God said, ‘Let us make man in our own image, in the likeness of ourselves … (New Jerusalem Bible)
There are a lot more translations of the Bible than these, but I think you get the idea.
God created humans.
God didn’t create white humans, then black humans, then brown humans, then yellow humans. God didn’t recreate normal humans or abnormal humans. God didn’t create gay humans or straight humans. God didn’t create smart humans or not-so-smart humans. God didn’t create nice humans, then rude humans.
God didn’t create Jewish humans, Muslim humans, Hindu humans, Zoroastrian humans, atheist humans, Christian humans.
God didn’t create Presbyterian humans, Roman or Orthodox Catholic humans, Baptist humans, Methodist humans, Unitarian humans.
God didn’t create American humans, French humans, Iraqi humans, Syrian humans, Chinese humans, Korean humans, Malaysian humans, Iranian humans.
God, especially, didn’t create Democratic or Republican humans.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all humans are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
And yet we humans fight as if our skin color, our ideas, our faith, our nationality, our government, our race are somehow elevated above all others. Instead of acting as if we believe in a higher power — whatever we may call that power — we act as if humanity is the highest power.
I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately, and wondering what would it be like if we really got rid of these divisions.
One world? Maybe. Are we so different?
As Shylock laments in the Merchant of Venice, Act III, Scene 1:
I am a Jew. Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions? Fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer as a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die?
Substitute any word you want for Jew. We are all the same, we are all created by God. It doesn’t matter if you think God created the world, and humankind, in six, 24-hour days, or that God set in motion the Big Bang that led to the creation of the universe.
“In the beginning, when God created …” That’s the starting — and really, ending — point.
As we sing in “This is my song:”
This is my song, O God of all the nations,
a song of peace for lands afar and mine.
This is my home, the country where my heart is;
here are my hopes, my dreams, my holy shrine;
but other hearts in other lands are beating
with hopes and dreams as true and high as mine.
My country’s skies are bluer than the ocean,
and sunlight beams on cloverleaf and pine;
but other lands have sunlight too, and clover,
and skies are everywhere as blue as mine.
O hear my song, thou God of all the nations,
a song of peace for their land and for mine.
This is my prayer, O Lord of all earth’s kingdoms:
Thy kingdom come; on earth thy will be done.
Let Christ be lifted up till all shall serve him,
and hearts united learn to live as one.
O hear my prayer, thou God of all the nations;
myself I give thee; let thy will be done.
To me, the true face of evil is when one group/belief/color/system believes it is superior to the another to the point that it has to kill/hate/maim/oppress the other.
And, if anyone should dare to question or challenge or wish for a world where these differences are irrelevant, they are called naive, silly or worse. They don’t get it. They don’t understand the realities of the world.
When in fact, what they are, is in touch with God’s wish for this world.
I realize that it is not likely that humankind as a whole will make much progress towards this kind of world. But I will not give up making the point.
So as you celebrate this Fourth of July, think about the words that launched this Republic, and remember that last line:
And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.
This is what I am willing to die for.
(PS: I wouldn’t be doing my duty if I didn’t note that John Witherspoon, a Presbyterian minister from New Jersey, was the only clergy to sign the Declaration. Also, my Great Aunt Etrulia Heyward’s husband was a direct descendant of Thomas Heyward Jr., one of the signatories from South Carolina.)