My Country: Faith and Our Crucible
Justice Douglas focused on the question of faith for July 2. In An Almanac of Liberty, he wrote:
The question of faith goes to the very heart of the problem of survival. Faith in men of opposing political creeds — faith in people who worship God from a temple too strange for us to call a church — faith in those who reject institutions and ways of thought which we hold dear — faith in the great and exciting diversity of man — faith in the inevitability of the failure of communism or any other form of dictatorship which leaves out of account God and His ethical principles–faith that there is a community of human need in the world that cuts across all barriers of race, creed, or color –faith that ideas of liberty will always command the market place when there is freedom of speech and of press.An Almanac of Liberty, Douglas, 383
He ends with a concern that the emphasis on war and money instead of community and democracy alienates us from the world. He states, “Without faith, there is nothing but the bomb. And the bomb leads only to the crucible.”
Douglas made a similar argument three years before the publication of the almanac in a 1951 interview:
American Secularism and Faith
Although I have not been writing every day (and I plan to try to tackle part of the second half of the year), this project was titled My Democratic Faith for a reason. Since the election in 2016, I have struggled to understand what America stands for. I struggle to look at my neighbors and understand how they can see families separated and put into camps and not feel anything. I cannot understand how someone would cast a vote for an individual who shrugs off obvious corruption and self-dealing. And I look at the words of our Founding Fathers and wonder how can I read these words crafted by men who had a sense of liberty and freedom when ignoring the lack of both in the country they created.
When I read Justice Douglas’s words and listen to his This I Believe speech above, I realize that in the 1950s, when supposedly America was great, the Supreme Court Justice whose words speak the most to me saw all of the same issues. Fifty years from now, people will watch reruns of TV shows and read books about the 2010s and not see the blight of the current administration just like I watch Leave It To Beaver without knowing the horrors our government put on millions of people.
I agree with Justice Douglas – we sit at a crucible right now. A President begins to run for re-election with a Fourth of July rally funded by the government for his donors and supporters. White supremacist organizations plan to attend in great numbers. And most likely, all of this will stream to our televisions on Thursday night.
As Independence Day comes up, we need to ask ourselves: will we be a nation held victim to fear? Can we regain faith in our institutions, our leaders, and ourselves? Can we look to our neighbors and not see someone we need a security system to protect us from but for someone to borrow a needed tool? Will we see the world as one community instead of groups of small tribes designed to destroy the next?
We face huge existential threats that many of us will not see the end to. The world has heated up. People struggle to survive and begin to seek new homes. Economic gains remain in the hands of a small few instead of spreading across an entire workforce. We have choices to make and a world to rebuild. Have hope. Have faith.