Prayer for the 4th of July

I struggle with some aspects of the celebration of the 4th of July, yet today as I prayed at a gathering of friends, I was reminded of so much for which I am thankful. Rabbi Michael Lerner wrote and shared a prayer for this 4th of July and a wonderful colleague Maureen Fiedler sent along Rabbi Lerner’s prayer with some of her own adaptation. I share it with you:

A Thanksgiving Prayer for the 4th of July

At this celebration, let’s give thanks for the ordinary and extraordinary Americans whose struggles brought about the best of the United States…

* For the waves of immigrants from all parts of the world who struggled to accept each other and find a place in this country…
* For the escaped slaves and their allies, particularly Quakers, evangelical Christians, and freedom-loving secularists, who build the underground railroad and helped countless people to freedom…
* For the coalitions of people–women and men, black and white–who built popular support for the emancipation of the slaves…
* For the African Americans and allies who went to prison, lost their livelihoods, and were savagely beaten in the struggle for civil rights…
* For the working people who championed protections like the eight-hour day, minimum wage, workers’ compensation, and the right to organize, often at great personal cost to themselves…
* For the immigrants who fought against “nativist” tendencies and refused to close the borders of this country to new groups of immigrants, and who continue to support a policy of “welcoming the stranger” just as this country opened its gates For their ancestors when they were the immigrants and strangers…
* For the women who risked family, job security, and reputations to shift our collective consciousness about men and women and raise awareness of the effects of patriarchy…
* For all of those who risk scorn and violence to lead the struggle against homophobia and for the acceptance of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people…
* For those who continue to work for equal access for people with disabilities…
* For those who advocate for sensitivity to animals and to the earth itself…
* For all of the innovators and artists who have brought, and bring, so much of beauty and usefulness into our lives…
* For those who fought to extend democratic principles not only in politics but also in the work place and in the economy…
* For those who developed innovations in science and technology, and methods to protect ourselves from the destructive impacts of some of these new technologies…
* For those who developed psychological insights and increased our ability to be sensitive to our impact on others…
* For those who developed ecological awareness and made us aware that we are one with all creation…
* For those who brought the insights of their own particular spiritual traditions which emphasize love and caring and generosity towards others, and sought to turn these ideas not only into a call for personal charity but also into a mission of justice to transform our economic and political systems in ways that reflect those values…
* For those who work tirelessly to stop war, and establish a time of peace and non-violence in our world…

For all these… who represent the best of the American tradition…we give thanks.

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