Prayer plays a prominent part in many American lives. Many pray for peace. Some kneel or bow in regular prayer. Others call for "thoughts and prayers" for victims. And some even make …
Prayer plays a prominent part in many American lives. Many pray for peace. Some kneel or bow in regular prayer. Others call for "thoughts and prayers" for victims. And some even make light: "As long as there are chemistry tests, there will be prayer in our public schools." Praying for others is most often what we do. Praying for things for ourselves strikes many as selfish, even venal.
Yet, in these confusing, turbulent and divisive times, it seems fitting to pray for ourselves — for wisdom, patience, tolerance, forbearance, and kindness. These traits are much needed throughout our society. Why? Because goodness matters.
We must retain our national confidence and meld it with humility. Good, confident people should never tolerate elected liars, politicians beholden to the wealthy, leaders who talk down the country, corporations that avoid taxes, or businesses that prey on the new, the needy, and the naive.
Good, confident people should be fearful of racism and discrimination of all kinds, not fearful of people whose prayer languages may differ and whose cultural roots may be far away. It is this non-sensical fear that deprives us of a broader and more peaceful sense of community. Do we love Chinese and Thai food but hate Asian-Americans?!
Do we pour into NFL stadiums but work to deny African-Americans the vote?! Do we praise the Judeo-Christian tradition and chant that Jews will never replace us?! The familiar psalm talks about the Shepherd: A shepherd counts the flock every morning. Why? Because each one matters.
A confident, humble people, most of whose forebears came from away, has an obligation to pray for world peace, to be sure. But, spoiler alert, America is part of the world, meaning that we must do all that we can to engender peace here at home. Imagine if all Americans understood simply and fully that each person matters. That would make ours a truly great country.