“One nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

GagaSo began Lady Gaga’s dazzling half-time Super Bowl performance. And so ends the Pledge of Allegiance of the United States of America.

Not coincidentally, this phrase lies at the heart of the debate raging within our country today. One nation? Absolutely, but one nation with very divided views on almost everything from politics, to religion, to economics, to what it means to be a just nation.

Under God? Most Americans would agree on that. But it seems that many have forgotten that Jews, Christians, and Muslims all worship the same God. Some call our Divine Creator ‘G-d’, others ‘God’, and still others ‘Allah’, but it is the same Creator we all worship. We are all descendants of Abraham. We are all sisters and brothers born of the same blood, sweat, and tears for “the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now” (Romans 8:22 NRSV). A pain we all share. A pain that should unite us. But a pain we all too easily forget.

Indivisible? Our country was almost permanently divided once, and there are some who believe we’re experiencing the Second Civil War. I have seen people on both sides of the current political divide deride their neighbors who disagree with them politically. Friends deeply hurt friends and question their character based on who they voted for. Families uninvite relatives from holiday gatherings. Protesters on both sides of the aisle literally beat one another up, when the war of words fails to satisfy.

And liberty and justice? Ah, there lies the rub. There lies the difference. I believe that how people define justice, lies at the heart of what divides us. Is justice protecting the unborn? Protecting American citizens from outsiders who would do us harm? Is justice protecting American jobs for American workers so they have a chance? Is justice keeping jobs in America, rather than letting them slowly but methodically leave our country?

Or is justice protecting a woman’s right to choose, particularly in cases of rape or incest? Is justice welcoming the stranger, the refugee, as Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus were welcomed? Is justice providing a safe haven from the ravages of war for those in life-threatening circumstances? Is justice standing up against misogyny and racism, and standing for the disabled?

What exactly does it mean to be just? How we answer this question determines where we find ourselves in the great American divide of 2017. And perhaps that can help us live with that divide, help us understand that those with whom we disagree are not Godless, evil people who don’t care, are not true believers as are we.

“One nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” Let us pray that we can all live into a better understanding of what this seminal phrase means to us, and what it means to our neighbors. All of our neighbors.

This entry was posted in 2016 Presidential Election, Justice Issues, Reflections on Life and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.