Independence Day

Happy Independence Day! I have definitely felt a bit off today having spent, what is normally a celebratory occasion with family and friends, another quiet reflective day on retreat. My thoughts today, compared with yesterday, were far more somber and troubled. It definitely was not the luscious treat that I received yesterday although it was a good day all things considered.

Independence Day

Independence Day

In many ways my reflective mood has been tempered by thoughts of what this day, this national holiday, ought to mean to everyone who calls this nation home, and yet dampened by the sobering realization that citizenship, patriotism, national pride, and love of country somehow may have been irretrievably lost, that a place that once was great and good and wonderful has been tossed away without so much a second glance or careless thought.

It does not take a great mind or deep thinker to realize that this country that I love so much has fallen down the rabbit hole and, like Alice, has found itself wandering around dazed, lost, confused, and confounded by well…literally anything and everything!

As I wandered around the center grounds this morning I couldn’t help but feel at peace, for within this small oasis little of what exists beyond the gate creeps in. I sat for a while and watched what appeared to be perhaps a hundred small birds, very much like hummingbirds it seemed, flitting in and out of a large dark-green tree. What I thought while watching them was just how contented and happy they appeared to be with whatever they were doing because they were doing what they were meant to be doing and giving it all their best. So many of them and yet there was no fighting, no shoving, no animosity at all, just a lot of little birds doing what they were born to do.

We humans, particularly those of us who call this nation home, could do ourselves an enormous service if we would but pause and regroup and simply watch the birds for a moment or two. We have problems, serious problems, in some cases even mortal problems that are in desperate need of addressing but it seems to me that the odds of resolving any one of them is so low it may be difficult to find a bookie to take the bet. The reason the odds are so against us is not because any one problem or all of them together aren’t resolvable, but rather, I believe, it is because we no longer have the fortitude, the rectitude, and the will to change our attitude. In a word, we no longer give a damn! Not one fig, twig, or teddy bear. Yes Sam, we simply do not care.

A recent poll (I really do hate polls, I really do) reported that no more than 14% of the nation’s young (I have no idea what age range that includes) knew the meaning of Independence day, knew when the Declaration of Independence was written and signed, or knew even one person who signed it. Whether that number is spot on, lower, or higher is of really little importance other than it serves as a clear indication that, “uh, Houston we have a problem.” Ask our youth almost any question of historical significance and only a few will respond with any accuracy. Most will answer, “I dunno, dude, like man I ain’t into that hysterical stuff!” But…ask them whether racism, discrimination, climate change, corporate greed, or other social ills are prevalent in our society and prepare to be bombarded with slogans of hate, anger, and condemnation.

But it isn’t just the young; far too many of us, no matter what the issue, problem, or challenge that comes before us respond thoughtlessly with vulgarity and spit. We have lost our moral compass, all sense of moral values, right judgment, and above all else just plain common sense. We have traded argument for conversation, debate for dialog, anger for reason, animosity for friendship, hatred for love, and division for community.

With almost every problem that now exists within, and even some outside our own borders we can no longer have a reasoned conversation because inevitably someone will disagree who would rather tear you down than discuss the issues. It is my way or the highway and by the way I own the road and you can’t pay the toll! Instead of “I must sincerely disagree and here’s why…” we hear “You’re a bigot” or “You’re a racist” or “You hate gays” or “Liar, liar, pants on fire!” Go ahead, write your own screed. Don’t listen, rant. Don’t communicate, scream. Don’t converse, blame. And of course, never let the facts get in the way. Deny, denigrate, blame, obfuscate.

Moments like this are when I find myself wanting to do as Howard Beale once so famously suggested and shout out of my window “I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore![1] Of course, I’m much too sanguine to actually do such a thing but it certainly made me feel better to at least have that thought rattling around inside my head. You certainly have my permission to do so if you wish.

These were some of my thoughts as I went about my day in quiet reflection. I told my Spiritual Director that I didn’t hear God today, not because I wasn’t listening, because I really was, but because I felt He wanted me to do some figuring out on my own. I can’t decide whether that was a good thing or not but it is what it is I suppose and I will simply have to live with that and I guess, sleep on it too.


[1] Howard Beale, fictional news anchor in the satirical film Network, 1976.

About the author: Deacon Chuck

Deacon Chuck was ordained into the permanent diaconate on September 17, 2011, in the ministry of service to the Diocese of Reno and assigned to St. Albert the Great Catholic Community. He currently serves as the parish bulletin editor and website administrator. Deacon Chuck continues to serve the parish of Saint Albert the Great Catholic Community of the Diocese of Reno, Nevada. He is the Director of Adult Faith Formation and Homebound Ministries for the parish, conducts frequent adult faith formation workshops, and is a regular homilist. He currently serves as the bulletin editor for the parish bulletin. He writes a weekly column intended to encompass a broad landscape of thoughts and ideas on matters of theology, faith, morals, teachings of the magisterium and the Catholic Church; they are meant to illuminate, illustrate, and catechize the readers and now number more than 230 articles. His latest endeavor is "Colloqui: A journal for restless minds", a weekly journal of about 8 pages similar in content to bulletin reflections. All his reflections, homilies, commentaries, and Colloqui are posted and can be found on his website: Comments are always welcome and appreciated. He is the author of two books: "The Voices of God: hearing God in the silence" which offers the reader insights into how to hear God’s voice through all of the noise that surrounds us; and "Echoes of Love: Effervescent Memories" which through a combination of prose and verse provides the reader with a wonderful journey on the way to discovering forever love. He regularly speaks to groups of all ages and size and would welcome the opportunity to speak to your group.

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