Tag Archives: e pluribus unum

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Changing The Narrative: E Pluribus Unum

On a day dedicated to remembering Presidents, much of our consumer culture will be looking for sales. But not everyone.  Today a small group of Riversiders, along with small groups from eight Jewish, Muslim and Christian congregations, will meet at Temple Micah in Washington in order to claim our American citizenship.  We come together in order to begin changing the narrative of fear and hatred to one of mutual regard and hope.  We are meeting to incarnate that American of all slogans, E Pluribus Unum–Out of Many, One.

Several months ago, Rabbi Zemel invited representatives from these several congregations to meet in dialogue. We have broken bread together, shared our despair over the direction of our country under a President who is particularly hostile to the stranger and the different, and we have shared our hopes as expressed through the prism of our unique religious perspectives and experiences. The leaders of these congregations agreed that we wanted to share our hope and excitement for reclaiming covenantal bonds of American citizenship with our congregants.  Starting slowly, we each have invited a small number of our congregants to come together over a table of food and a common worship service.

Black and White, female and male, young and old, immigrant and native, gay and straight…  Muslim, Christian, Jew…  we are America.  We not only recognize one another as fellow human beings but we dedicate and renew ourselves to protecting the dignity of each and of every one.

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The Monumental Failure of Trumpism

Can we call the President’s behavior and accumulated tweets an “ism” at this point?  Unlike other isms, he lacks any philosophical core.  He is not so much an ideologue as he is a self-centered, unhinged manager who has been promoted to a position absolutely outside of his skill set or intellectual capacity. But this is really not my point.  Whatever we call this, Trumpism or Republican Governance, it is a monumental failure.

This all feels to me like times when I drove around in circles lost. This would have been prior to GPS guidance on my phone but I think you’ll agree, even when you use GPS to guide you somewhere, you still look for landmarks. So in Washington DC, as you can imagine, one of the easiest landmarks to spot is the Washington Monument.  You can pretty much get lost anywhere and from a considerable distance still spot the abolisk rising 555 feet into the air.  If you have a landmark like that, then you can eventually find your way home.

Outside the White House where Mr. Trump resides, stands that monument to our First President.  Not far away are other landmark monuments:  the Lincoln, the Capitol, the eternal flame on President Kennedy’s grave in Arlington.  I note this because on this July 4th,  it is quite apparent to most of us that the country is drifting further and further downstream, unmoored and rapidly removing itself from the founding ideas of our Republic.  We are nearly at a point where none of those monuments is visible to us and most disturbing of all, the current president seems oblivious to them and yet, they are just outside his residence.

On this Independence Day, find a landmark.  Read the Preamble to the Constitution. Read the Bill of Rights. Read Frederick Douglass’ speech, “What To The Slave Is The Fourth Of July?”  Or visit one of those monuments. Enter the Lincoln Memorial and read the words inscribed on the temple walls. Any of these and more can guide us back to the vision and dream of America—a vision and dream yet to be fully realized but one that calls to us to do so.

I’m  a Baptist clergyman.  I do not believe in the entanglements of Church and State. I prefer the State to remain out of religious matters and Presidents to stop talking about God and begin living up to their constitutional responsibilities.  As a citizen then, I am noting on July 4, 2017, that we are in danger as a Republic, as the President twitters away the very notion of E Pluribus Unum.   There is no excuse for us to be lost. There are simply too many monuments and monumental moments in our history for us to give up on the dream.  But we’re lost. Instead of driving around in circles, let’s just admit that.    May this Independence Day become a landmark for finding our way back to the cherished dreams of our founding documents.