“Our Internal Conflict: We Still Remember Our Collective Wounds Every National Holiday”
There is a serious internal conflict that arises among the American people of various cultural background, ethnicity, and race in the commemoration of every major national holiday such as the 4th of July, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving Holiday, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, in this country. Among a large segment of the American population, there seems to be a hunger for more democracy and justice and thus a fair critique of the application of the current democracy to the living conditions and existential plot of this nation’s disadvantaged and minority populations. Their repetitive complaints and spontaneous rage make the work of American democracy limited, inadequate, and even bankrupt. For example, many African Americans do not feel comfortable to celebrate the 4th of July (of 1776), the founding of the Republic of the United States of America and its eventual emancipation from the Great Britain.
This American freedom, which they argue, is not their own, since their African ancestors were still historically enslaved in a country that just became politically free and independent from its former colony. Rather, they proclaim that their true independence occurred not in 1776 but in 1865, known as “Juneteenth,” the historic commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States, in June 19, 1865, and the historic moment the transatlantic slave trade was legally banned and condemned.
A second source of internal conflict is the Martin Luther King Jr. Day (June 20). Many Black Americans and immigrants equally claim this day as theirs as they collaboratively remember and celebrate Dr. King’s magisterial labor, enduring efforts, and resilient activism that practically embody the soul of the American democracy and its connected lofty ideals and principles of American unity and solidarity, and human rights and civil rights for all America’s children—black, white, brown, Asian, native American, mixed, and those yet to be born. By contrast, many White Americans do not feel the same way and often are not enthusiastic about celebrating the achievements of a “Black Hero,” and paradoxically, he was and is a “native son.”
A third source of internal conflict arises in our midst during the celebration of the Thanksgiving Day (It is celebrated every year on the fourth Thursday of November). Many White, Asian, Hispanic, and Black Americans wholeheartedly celebrate this (in-) famous holiday without any regard to the history of conquest, colonization, and the eventual genocide of the native American population. By contrast, the majority of individuals and families from the Native American population (and a minority of the American population from other ethnic groups or races) refuse this celebration and for them, the Thanksgiving holiday is a day for national lament and repentance, and correspondingly a moment called for national reckoning and retribution.
How shall we then be reconciled to each other? How shall we then move forward as a nation and people without forgetting the historical past but not dwell upon it? How shall we then cultivate genuine interracial friendship and authentic social relationships among ourselves? What constructive steps should we now take collectively to foster a sense of national unity and collective destiny? Honestly, I do not know the best possible solution, but I would like to offer a prayer for this nation and its people on the 4th of July (Yes, beyond offering a word of prayer, I also believe political interventions and public policies grounded on the common good and human flourishing and governmental actions rooted in the idea of a social contract to lift up the poor and the vulnerable are critical and urgent steps to achieve the work of democracy for all.)
“A Prayer for National Healing and a Wounded Nation”
O Gracious God and Sovereign Lord of the universe and all nations: We pray in this way for holistic healing and restoration of this nation:
where there’s hate, grant us love.
where there’s despair, give us hope.
where there’s division, grant us unity.
where there’s chaos, give us peace.
where there’s isolation, grant us community.
where there’s sin, give us repentance.
where there’s retaliation, grant us forgiveness.
where there’s vengeance, grant us reconciliation.