Bruce's Blog


Happy Interdependence Day!

July 1st, 2021

I am always a bit ambivalent about the Fourth of July holiday. This nation was founded on blood and born in war. Not just the blood of the Revolutionary War, but on the blood of the indigenous people who had coexisted in this land long before we came to “civilize” them, and, of course the blood and bodies and souls of an enslaved people. Though Thomas Jefferson wrote in our founding document that “all men are created equal,” nowhere in American history are women, people of color, “foreigners”, or poor people designated as equal to those white, wealthy, old founding fathers.

The fireworks that have come to symbolize Independence Day are simulated warfare—“bombs bursting in air”.

At this point in my life I do not celebrate war, but peace and harmony. Neither do I see “America First” as anything other than the narcissistic mantra it is. Any kind of national exceptionalism seems to me counter-productive to global cohesion and collaboration.

I DO believe in the right of every person to live as independently as their circumstances allow. One of the core values of UCOM is respect. An integral part of respect is championing people’s independence from poverty, homelessness, hunger, insecurity, tyranny, bullying, fear, paternalism, condescension, and harsh judgment.  I am determined that everything we do at UCOM helps people to achieve more and more independence. For every emergency need we provide I expect that we offer some options people can use to sustain themselves and their families.

As we have lived in the midst of this pandemic that has taken 600,000 American lives and is still not done, we have heard the arguments of personal freedom opposing the common good and safety for all. Anti-maskers have morphed into anti-vaxers. People who refused to wear a mask over mouth and nose to protect themselves and others from this virus repeatedly issued the argument that this infringed on their freedom. Anti-vaxers often put forth the same argument. You can’t make me get vaccinated. That would infringe on my right. That is the downside of independence. Only I matter. I am not responsible for anyone else. “Am I my brother’s [or other sibling’s] keeper?”

My response is, “Yes, I am responsible for how my actions affect every other creature on the planet.

For that reason, I have for many years celebrated Interdependence Day on the Fourth of July. The strength of this or any nation is revealed by how we relate to those with less power and privilege than we, and what we do to achieve equality.

What do you celebrate at this time of year? How do you see your role in the world and specifically in this “land of the free and home of the brave”?


#1 Dorothy Minor said:

Thank you Bruce for this statement. July 4th, for most folks, is a day to picnic, watch fireworks, maybe extend a vacation a few days. For most, the reason for this day never crossed their minds. The service UCOM provides, is essential. I will continue to support it as best I can.

#2 Bruce Roller said:

Your faithful consistent support makes a huge difference in the lives of so many of our neighbors, Dorothy. Thank you for your response.

#3 Bruce Roller said:

et America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed—
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There’s never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this “homeland of the free.”)

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?
—Langston Hughes, from “Let America Be America Again”

#4 Mary Angelo said:

Thank you, Bruce! I agree STRONGLY with every word you wrote. It needs to be said. And people need to see it and understand the truth you shared. Well done, my friend.

#5 Laurie Piersma said:

Thanks so much for this. I struggle with “our country is the greatest “ type of attitude. I don’t mean to be “unpatriotic”.... but this nation is far from “the best”. I hope every day to be able to make a tiny positive difference. Fighting for immigrants rights is my passion... I just don’t know what organization to join to support that. Any ideas?? I used to be involved more when I lived in GR, but now that I live in Holland I find I have to “re-group”

#6 Bruce Roller said:

I pledge allegiance to no flag.
I pledge allegiance to no nation,
no tribe, no party.
I pledge allegiance to no bombs
bursting in air,
but to the silence in a day of prayer.
True patriotism is rebellion.
True rebellion is joy.
Cast down the mighty, the masters of war.
I pledge allegiance to the poor.
I pledge allegiance to hemp and sod.
I pledge allegiance to the unnamed god.
I pledge allegiance to the moon and tide,
to sun and wind and what I cannot know.
I pledge allegiance to the rainbow,
to the light that contains all colors.
I pledge allegiance to living coral.
I pledge allegiance to an heirloom tomato seed
and to the wisdom in the weed.
I pledge allegiance to the unborn
curled in the mother's sea of trust.
I pledge allegiance to the dust.
I pledge allegiance to all winged
and swimming children of the earth,
to creatures that crawl or come out at night,
to all my relations who wait to take birth,
to brothers and sisters, four-legged and two.
I pledge allegiance to you.
~ Fred LaMotte

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