A Muslim cabbie in Manhattan picks up a rabbi at Grand Central Station. He drives him to the National Council of Churches on Riverside Drive, where the rabbi meets a Sister of Charity at the United Methodist Women’s office. They eat at a Hindi restaurant and talk business. This is not a joke. It’s what it means to be American.
Being American doesn’t mean living in Maine or Mississippi or Montana but valuing equality, opportunity, and generosity wherever we are. It’s not about boundaries but about transcending them to embrace the spiritual qualities that make 300 million of us one.
Being American is about unity in diversity. It’s knowing that what blesses one, blesses all, and that what blesses all, blesses each.
Independence Day is a celebration of our interdependence—a day to acknowledge that each of us depends on all of us, and that all of us need each of us. Sure, it is a great expression of gratitude for the gift of independence our forefathers gave us, but it is also appreciating what we give to each other and to ourselves right now. It is the thankful awareness that when a family in Chicago gets food stamps, a city is richer; when a family in Maine receives health care, a state is healthier; when taxes from a corporation in New York help provide shelter for a homeless family in Joplin, a country is stronger; and when all of us send medicine to families with AIDS in Africa, the whole world is blessed. America is a spiritual idea that has no limits!
The Average Catholic is an average American. She knows that no matter what some shouting head might say on TV, interdependence is what independence is all about. Have a great holiday with your family and friends!