Community Voices

July Fourth reminds us that it’s time to be more civil to each other

Bea L. Hines
Bea L. Hines

Happy birthday, America!

In a letter to his wife on July 3, 1776, John Adams predicted how future celebrations of July Fourth would be, saying that the celebrations “ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty as well as being “solemnized with pomp, shews, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations from one end of the continent to the other, from this time forward forever...”

The letter was published recently in an opinion piece by Peter Roff in U.S. News & World Report.

I am amazed at how relevant Adams’ words are today. While not too many people use the day to perform “solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty,” unless the day falls on a Sunday or another day of worship, a good many — too many — people will use the holiday to celebrate with guns and other destructive devices.

Just for the record, I’m proud to be an American. I sing “America the Beautiful,” “The Star-Spangled Banner” and other patriotic songs standing tall and proud. Yet, I don’t let my patriotism cloud my mind, making me believe that all is well in America.

We are a country that stands divided. There is a spirit of hate permeating the air — hate toward people who look different from you, who worship in a different holy house from yours. Indeed, the hate is so strong that one fears tooting her horn in traffic to let the driver in front know the traffic light has changed. If she does, it can cause uninvited violence that we now call road rage.

It seems that if we have learned anything in the 241 years of our independence, it is how to be more violent to each other. It breaks my heart.

Yes, we’ve come a long way. We’ve crossed many hurdles, from lynchings of Native Americans and African Americans to the massacres of entire African-American communities (like Rosewood in 1923) to the modern-day cruelties brought on by the Jim Crow era.

Yes, we weathered the storms. We survived as a nation and went to war together to fight for the freedoms some of us came to enjoy. Yet even as Native Americans and African Americans fought side by side with their white brothers and sisters, back home we battled an internal war.

Still, we had hope and faith in the Almighty God that Adams spoke of in his letter to his wife, Abigail. Some of us kept the faith through all of the bloodshed and injustice. And we survived.

But mere surviving is not enough. It is not enough for our children and our children’s children. We can and must make our America a better place for them.

As I write this, I believe in my heart that we can make a start toward the light. All is not lost. It just takes a little more effort from each of us. We can change, America. We can all work together to stop the violence and the hatefulness that seems to be separating us today. We can do this by starting with small, seemingly insignificant acts of kindness.

My suggestion might seem impossible to some. But can we at least try? Our children and future generations are depending on us.

‘Grace is Greater than your regrets’

The Universal Truth Center for Better Living, at 21310 NW 37th Ave. in Miami Gardens, invites the community to hear the Rev. Charles Taylor preach on the subject, “Grace is Greater Than Your Regrets.” His sermon is part of the series on the theme, “Boldly Living in Grace.”

The thought-provoking sermon will teach parishioners how to live a life in God’s grace, which is stronger than any regrets they may be experiencing.

Call the church at 305-624-4991 for more information.

Civic Chorale of Greater Miami presents ‘Misa Criolla’

Mark your calendars for July 30, when the Civic Chorale of Greater Miami will present the Mass “Misa Criolla” by Ariel Ramirez at St Andrew’s Episcopal Church, 14260 Old Cutler Road, Palmetto Bay.

According to Phee Price, the executive director of the chorale, “Misa Criolla” was one of the first Masses that was not in Latin, written shortly after the Second Vatican Council permitted use of the vernacular in Catholic churches.

Price said the Mass is for either male or female soloists, chorus and traditional instruments and is based on folk genres. Its composer, Ariel Ramírez, is from Argentina. He also is a pianist and musical director. He wrote the Mass from 1963 to 1964 and it was recorded in 1965.

The program will feature Dr. Joseph Talleda on the piano, Gerard Ortega, tenor, and Alvaro Bermudez on charango and guitar. Misty Bermudez is the artistic director.

Tickets are $5 each and will be available at the door or online at

Liturgical dance conference to be in Orlando

Attention all liturgical dancers: The Dancing Preachers International Conference will be held July 25-30 in Orlando. According to a press release, the conference is one of the largest liturgical dance conferences and will bring together dancers from around the world through worship and workshops.

The program will include more than 60 workshops for dancers to hone their spiritual and dance skills, 40 instructors, garment and flag vendors, mime, technical classes and large production choreography.

Register at or call Jeba Media at 305-835-0321.

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