All Are One

Philosopher Jacob Needleman, author of The American Soul: The Inward Work of Democracy, passionately presents some of the great, though fallible human beings who forged this country we love, men and women who demanded of themselves high ideals, which they, in turn, expressed in our Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights. Among these people Needleman highlights: George Washington for being a man who “turned away from power”; Thomas Jefferson who knew the invaluable importance of “listening well”; Abrahan Lincoln, “humbled by power” even as he firmly exhorted “malice toward none, and charity toward all”; and 19th century Frederick Douglas, an escaped slave who deeply loved the America he felt compelled to “criticize for allowing slavery to exist.”

Call what these men stood for what you will—ideals or virtues—we need to reflect on them today, as we struggle to maintain our democracy. Let it not be thought that anyone, least of all Jacob Needleman, would deny Americans the fireworks, festivals, marches and parades we so love to employ in our Fourth of July celebrations; however, he feels our patriotism must go deeper than all that.

Needleman asserts that our age needs not just external action groups but “think groups” that could help us ask such hard questions as: “What are the duties implied by our rights as very blessed Americans? What is the inward work of democracy? What does the Declaration of Independence imply when it says, ‘ALL are created equal’ and, ‘ALL have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness’?”

Father of all, we pray for our nation and our world. We ask that you help us remove the walls that separate us, now so impenetrable so that we might seek truth, harbor no malice and live in charity toward all. Use us for the work of healing our world. May we no longer be at war with one another or within ourselves. May every nation, every color and every religion, find at last the one heartbeat we share. Continue to create and sustain our countries both for us and for our children. Hallelujah, at the thought of such a change coming about, through you, through us, and through your light that shines within us. We thank you, Lord. Amen.

Renee Domeier, OSB

Photo: An American flag at the St. Joseph Independence Day parade, July 4, 2019. Taken by Sister Nancy Bauer.