Columnist

Happy birthday, America! We’ve come so far together

 

bea.hines@gmail.com

Here we are, America, at the dawn of another birthday.

As I write this column, I am also reflecting on the blessings that have been afforded me as an American.

It is true, life wasn’t always so great for African Americans, and perhaps some would say that life for us still isn’t so great. But as I reflect on our nation and what we have overcome as a people in the past 50 years, I can honestly thank God for the progress we have made, not only as African Americans, but also as a nation.

I am proud to be an American; happy that I have lived long enough to see some significant changes in the laws that were made to govern us; happy to that I have lived long enough to see the changes that have enabled us to live together; to worship together and learn together.

This is not to say that all is well in our homeland. Like real family members, we don’t always agree on everything. But most of us seem to want to work at settling our differences in the lawful manner that has gotten us to this point in life: the powerful ballot.

To be able to vote in a free country is a wonderful privilege that too many of us take for granted. Not too many years ago, some African Americans, and also some white Americans, died for the right for African Americans to be able to vote. I am reminded of that period of American history every time I hear of, or read about, the fighting in other countries simply for the right to vote in a peaceful election. It seems so strange that in 2014, there are still people in the world who are still dying for the right to vote.

As I reflect even more on our nation’s birthday, I am praying that the celebrations won’t end in violence. If there is any one thing that hinders us as Americans, it is the violence that seems so rampant in our neighborhoods, especially in poor African American or Hispanic neighborhoods. It is almost as though there are people out there who thrive on the business of hurting other people. It is a sad testimony to drive past makeshift memorials, left there by loved ones of the victims.

Wake up America! Wake up Miami! With all its ills, we still live in the greatest nation and the most beautiful city on earth. We need to live each day like we appreciate this privilege. We need to work together in finding a cure for our ills.

So, on this 238th year of our independence, let each of us vow to do our part in making this celebration a really Happy Birthday to America by reaching out to someone; by just saying a friendly “Hello” to a stranger. You’d be surprised at how much that small, random act of kindness could mean to a person who is going through a tough time.

That’s how it starts — each one reaching out to another. And before you know it these small acts of kindness will have spread out all over. And maybe, just maybe, we won’t hear the ugliness of gunshots mingled with the celebration sounds of Fourth of July fireworks heralding in another birthday of our America the Beautiful.

Forum on marijuana

At 10 a.m. on July 12, pastors, youth leaders and recovery groups are invited to an “Education Forum on Marijuana” at Greater St. Paul A.M.E. Church, 3680 Thomas Ave. in Coconut Grove.

Subjects to be covered at the forum include:

• The Harms and Consequences from Marijuana in Our Communities;

• The biblical perspective on the use of substance; and

• Information to help church members understand this public health issue.

To participate, you may register at www.ccsouthfla.org or contact Sara Leon at 305-773-4693 or email her at saraleon2010@live.com

Refreshments will be served.

‘Healing Wings’

Here is a save-the-date item for you:

The Rev. Nettie B. Davis, founder and pastor of God’s Amazing Grace Outreach Ministries, Inc. has launched the church’s “Healing Wings Initiative” to bring more awareness to the problem of HIV/AIDS, particularly among older citizens.

On Sept. 18, also known as National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day, Davis and Healing Wings will host an event to bring more attention to this plight that is affecting more and more older citizens.

To learn more about the event, you may email Davis at godsamazinggrace@att.net or go to www.godsamazinggrace.com. You may also call Davis at 305-409-4655.

Send all items at least two weeks in advance to Religion Notes, c/o Neighbors, 2000 NW 150th Ave., Suite 1105, Pembroke Pines, FL 33028, fax it to 954-538-7018 or email bea.hines@gmail.com. Pictures are accepted but cannot be returned.

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