Are there still two Americas?

Are there still two Americas?

“Let’s see what kind of society we can create if we invest in these children who are living in the margins.”

Do you have a free 45 minutes? Me neither. Do you ever sit in front of the computer for 45 minutes? Me too. I just spent the last 45 minutes doing some work on the computer while listening to and watching this April 2 episode of “Bill Moyers Journal” on PBS. It is worth your time. You might not agree with all of it. That’s ok. It’s very thought-provoking.

One of the guests, Bryan Stevenson, was a student of my father’s. I’d like to thank my parents for passing on the link to me.

I’m thinking about these questions. I wonder what you think.

  • How do my innermost thoughts and opinions reflect this sense of two Americas? And to the extent that they do, is it wrong or right?
  • How do I see these two Americas in my own community? Is that a problem? Is it fair? Is it just? How did these two Americas get created in my own community?
  • How am I personally contributing to and promoting justice for children? What about children who are at the fork in the road: down one path the America of opportunity, down the other the America of poverty.

I don’t have the answers. My general bias is probably clear. I wouldn’t have posted this link otherwise. I am challenged today to think not only about the large issues — societal trends and justice and freedom — but also about the choices I am making today. Where is my charitable giving going? What about my time? Are there ways that I can contribute to the free-ing of one child from a life of poverty? Are there ways that I can contribute to our public school system so as to help it be more effective at improving the lives of children? Are there choices that I can make today, in the midst of my relative wealth of time and money, that will improve the lives of others tomorrow and a decade from now?

And perhaps even more importantly, what am I teaching my children about these two Americas? My children are the next generation. They can be part of the solution.

I’d like to leave you with two prayers that we say every week at our church, one right before Communion and one right after. For me, as with many prayers said liturgically, they take on fresh meaning in different contexts. I am fascinated by the gratitude and challenge contained in these prayers in the context of these issues:

The Prayer of Humble Access

Most merciful Lord,

your love compels us to come in.

our hands were unclean,

our hearts were unprepared;

we were not fit

even to eat the crumbs from under your table.

But you, Lord, are the God of our salvation,

and share your bread with sinners.

So cleanse and feed us

with the precious body and blood of your Son,

that he may live in us and we in him;

and that we, with the whole company of Christ,

may sit and eat in your kingdom. Amen.

Prayer after Communion

Father of all,

we give you thanks and praise,

that when we were still far off

you met us in your Son and brought us home.

Dying and living, he declared your love,

gave us grace, and opened the gate of glory.

May we who share Christ’s body live his risen life;

we who drink his cup bring life to others;

we whom the Spirit lights give light to the world.

Keep us firm in the hope you have set before us,

so we and all your children shall be free,

and the whole earth live to praise your name;

through Christ our Lord.

Amen.

May our choices today bring light to others and help one child in the direction of freedom.

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