There’s an old song, whose lyrics pose the question, “ What is America to me? The answer: A name, a map, the flag I see; a certain word, democracy, what is America to me? The house I live in, a plot of earth, a street; the grocer and the butcher and the people that I meet. It’s the children in the playground, the faces that I see, all races all religions, that’s America to me”.
The place I work in, the worker by my side; the little town or city where my people lived and died. The howdy and the hand shake, the air of feeling free, the right to speak my mind out, that’s America to me. (Written and sung by Frank Sinatra).
This is the thing: Frank unfortunately discovered America turned out to be, for many others that he cared for and worked with, a very different America than this beloved song portrayed. He had to fight for the rights of his Black American friends, entertainers, workers, and musicians. He singlehandedly segregated Las Vegas and refused to do concerts if his musicians, and fellow entertainers of color would not be afforded the same respect given to him. He demanded they stay in the same hotels, eat in the same restaurants, and enjoy privileges afforded to White Americans. To him, that was what America was supposed to be.
Today I ponder, what is America to me? And though I sang this song as a young teen for a school play, I can’t sing those words today. Today, American is nothing like the Frank Sinatra song. Today I don’t hear the voices of White religious leaders or politicians, or others demanding justice and equal rights for Black Americans, for Hispanic Americans; at least not enough to make a difference. Thank you Max Lucado and Mark Lowery and so many White entertainers, with the guts to stand for right. I don’t see enough Black leadership standing together to say, no this is it. We’re done and we’re not going to take this anymore! My point, I don’t hear those cries for justice consistently enough for haters to get it, that America will not stand for racist behavior towards anyone! Period! And no one, not even those in leadership will be supported, when they keep silent, or especially when they incite hatred. I don’t see the justice system standing for the rights of all men women. As if we should either be dead, or put in new slave system called prison. I could be wrong, I could just be blind.
Today I pray for this American, led by leaders who incite and thrive on hateful behavior. And those who deny that, saying nothing, is saying a lot! I pray for an America where children are locked in cages and the outcry for their situation dies down long after the photo ops. Today I pray for an America where church leaders in fear of losing money, cringe in silence and suggest all we do is pray, when even God in Revelation 21:8; expresses His distain for cowardice and the fact that they “will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur”. Today I pray for an America where just because of the color of a man’s skin, makes it unsafe for him to walk on the streets of the America built by his own ancestors, fact, not myth.
Today I pray for America, whose leaders encourage people to face a deadly pandemic head on by ignoring its power and presence, just to jump start an economy which will line the pockets of the wealthy while killing the middle class and poor. Today I pray for America. The words of Frank Sinatra’s song have long died and I can no longer sing those words because the country he described, doesn’t exist for all Americans! For me, and too many others looking like me, that country never existed. The very sad part is, it could, and it should.
Today I pray for America. I pray for those who mistakenly believe God is like the religions who claim Him. I pray for America who in the name of God behave like demons and justify it behind religion. Today I pray for America.
Today, this is what I know to be true and necessary to say. It’s what “I’m given” to share. Like graduates who can’t have commencement, like those family members who’ve lost loved ones, like those Black men who can’t walk or run down a daggone street and feel safe, and those children in cages at the border, life really isn’t always fair. It’s life! But this behavior is unacceptable. So we gotta deal with it, we gotta fight for ourselves and for the sake of others or we’ll become like those who we criticize! We must fight for the real America! And God help us if we don’t!
Today I pray for America. Today I pray for the world.
Lamentations 3:28-33. When life is heavy and hard to take, go off by yourself. Enter the silence. Bow in prayer. Don’t ask questions: wait for hope to appear. Don’t run from trouble. Take it full face. The “worst” is never the worst. Why? Because God will never walk out and fail to return.
If He works severely, He also works tenderly.” God will help us.
We have hope, It’s name is Jesus. So I pray and I do. Today I pray that you pray, and that rather than wait for others, you do. You seek out to make someone happy, to encourage to support, to help, to heal.
Today; what is America to me? You!