Saturday, January 21, 2017

We Are the World

America the Beautiful.

America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

The Statue of Liberty declares: “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” 

In a sermon entitled “The American Dream” Martin Luther King Jr. proclaimed: "The whole concept of the imago dei, as it is expressed in Latin, the 'image of God,' is the idea that all men have something within them that God injected. Not that they have substantial unity with God, but that every man has a capacity to have fellowship with God. And this gives him a uniqueness, it gives him worth, it gives him dignity. 

And we must never forget this as a nation: There are no gradations in the image of God. Every man from a treble white to a bass black is significant on God's keyboard, precisely because every man is made in the image of God. One day we will learn that. We will know one day that God made us to live together as brothers and to respect the dignity and worth of every man. That is why we must fight segregation with all of our nonviolent might."

To respect the dignity and worth of every man

Last month our boys brought home a letter from their principal that addressed this issue of inclusion:

“We, at Pioneer, are an inclusive community and want to make sure all students and families feel safe and welcome. In lieu of the recent election and events across the country, it has become clear we are a nation that holds many perspectives. At Pioneer we have always encouraged empathy and taught students to practice how to listen to more than one point of view.

Recently we have had a couple of incidents where some of our students have been questioned about whether or not they belong in America. While we are indeed a school that honors and believes in diversity of thought and perspective, we want to be clear, all of our students belong here and will be treated with respect and care.”

 All belong here and will be treated with respect and care

In 1985, 50 talented musicians came together to record We Are the World to raise money for famine relief in Africa. I can still remember my family recording our own version of this powerful song at a Myrtle Beach studio, and we sounded almost as good as the real thing. 

"We Are The World" has been on my mind this overcast Inauguration Day, as I've been thinking about the transition ahead and what it means to be an American in 2017. I'm inspired by the making of this song that was outward-focused and compassion-driven, that brought people together in order to reach out. That was not focused on building walls to keep outsiders on the outside, or on making our own nation great. But was seeking to contribute to the betterment of the world. Using gifts and talents not for the purpose of building themselves up, but to help others across the ocean who were in need. 

I watched We Are the World: The Story Behind the Song this afternoon and learned that there was a sign at the door for the musicians as they came in to the studio, many directly from the Music Awards: “Check your egos at the door.”
One of the musicians said there was “an instant sense of camaraderie, an instant sense of belonging, an instant sense of oneness” among the artists, some who had just met for the first time. There was “a spirit of fellowship in the studio that night” and “everyone wanted everyone else's autograph.”

Competition and pride were left outside of the recording studio, as they were all united by a common purpose.

To help those in our world who were in need
To respect the dignity and worth of every person
To honor each life with respect and care

I believe that focusing on that common purpose today would make America beautiful.

There comes a time when we heed a certain call
When the world must come together as one

We're all a part of God's great big family
And the truth, you know love is all we need

As God has shown us by turning stone to bread
So we all must lend a helping hand

There's a choice we're making
We are the ones who make a brighter day so let's start giving

A change can only come
When we stand together as one

We are the world. 
Let's make America beautiful by stretching our hands beyond our borders.
By opening our doors and our hearts to the marginalized and those in need. 
God made us to live together as brothers. 

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