Thoughts on Columbus Day
by Jim Polk
It is my understanding that holidays, at least ideally, are intended for thoughful consideration of our national and community life, and reflection on both who we are and hope to be as a people. In this context, I have for several years used part of my holidays writing essays along these lines. Having done so on both public and religious holidays, I have come to believe it is both the patriot's and prophet's responsibility to challenge the people to fulfill our highest calling in bringing health, wholeness, and what was once called holiness- but now perhaps more commonly denominated as sacredness- to the earth.
In any case, it remains true that that which is sacred became sacred to a significant degree because of sacrifice. The words sacred and sacrifice are integral, mutually interlocked and mutually sustaining.
Today, when only soldiers and their families are called on to sacrifice, and are expected to do so privately, out of public view, with little common public awareness and less recognition, the effect of that privacy is not merely private. The resulting challenge to prophet and patriot alike is immense. Private sacrifice means only private sacredness, and the shared-in-common sense of the sacredness of our life together is depleted, endangered. (Going shopping to support the nation, I would note if it is worth the effort, hardly qualifies as sacrificial giving, though shopping seems the highest public ideal some of our current politicians are willing to invoke.)
Therefore, I grow more concerned about how we in America seem to be answering the question of who we are as a people (and still more so because of how few people seem to even be asking the question). Not only our sense of what is sacred, but the reality of our abundance, and therefore our capacity for giving, has been fiercely, terribly depleted.
The earth and her people, far from being healed, seems much more blistered and broken now than before tens of thousand of lives and inestimable treasures were thrown into the fires of war.
Borrowing the title of an old book that was on the shelves of my childhood home, I hope we will find our way very soon to open channels for "Streams in the Desert", to seek out and reopen lost springs of restorative justice, human care and kindness.
Such streams are needed not only in the Middle East, but within the Americas, in our homelands. "Homeland Security" for all the effort seems at best a very constraining answer to concerns for security of the homes and lands of the Americas. In this context, here is an essay for this Columbus Day which I believe to be relevant to the occasion. If I have sent this to you previously, please excuse... Nevertheless, from my perspective I believe that the hazard of leaving these things unsaid is far greater than that of saying them twice.
Finally, I hope you will forward this to others who might share this hope and might pledge their allegiance to efforts to release and restore "Streams in the Desert"- that justice might flow down like mighty waters...