'Liberty and justice for all'
A Christian Science perspective: Flag Day has taken on new significance to this writer as she helps a friend prepare for her U.S. citizenship test.
Many of us love a parade with flags flying, veterans waving, and bands marching by, booming their drums and trumpeting their brass instruments. There’s something about it that makes our hearts swell and our eyes well up with tears, and heightens our appreciation for our country. Flag Day in the United States commemorates the adoption of the flag on June 14, 1777. It’s not a national holiday, and it probably slips by quietly for most Americans. Lately, I’ve had the opportunity to think more about the flag and what it represents, while helping a native Spanish-speaking friend prepare for her US citizenship test.
Those who attended US public schools recited daily the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag. It reads: “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
Taking a closer look at the spirit of the pledge with my student naturally turned my thought to immigration and to all the people who have moved from one country to another over the decades – sometimes welcomed, sometimes not. Although my friend lives in Colorado legally and is working toward becoming a citizen, many of us here and around the world have neighbors who are undocumented residents. Most would agree that immigration is a controversial issue, but a spiritual concept of each person’s value, where he or she truly resides, and what his or her rights are as part of God’s creation, shines a new light and offers a good place to start on praying about immigration.
To me the meaning of the last phrase of the pledge, “one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all,” doesn’t necessarily apply exclusively to those in the US; the spirit of its message includes everyone. God knows His people as one nation that can’t be divided from Him or from each other. In her main work, “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science, wrote, “Man is not God, but like a ray of light which comes from the sun, man, the outcome of God, reflects God” (p. 250).
We are the light that shines out from Him. God knows each one of us intimately, spiritually, as well as a parent knows his or her own child. Our value is a substantial part of our identity, and, therefore, goes with us no matter which country we reside in. To God, divine Love, we aren’t “strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God” (Ephesians 2:19, New King James version).
Is the household of God located in a subdivision of homes in a particular country? No. St. Paul said, “In him [God] we live, and move, and have our being” (Acts 17:28). As a military child, I grew up in a family that relocated many times. Every time we moved to a new place, it wouldn’t take my family long to feel at home. I know now that it was a spiritual sense of living in the presence of God, safe and secure, that made those transitions more manageable.
Each of us is always a treasured resident in divine Love. In the second stanza of a poem titled “Mother’s Evening Prayer,” Mrs. Eddy wrote, “His habitation high is here, and nigh,/ His arm encircles me, and mine, and all” (“Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896,” p. 389).
God, divine Love, has His arm around us all, and cares for His children equally. “Love is impartial and universal in its adaptation and bestowals” (Science and Health, p. 13). Boundaries between countries can’t diminish or heighten the opportunity, potential, or abundance that God has bestowed on us. Under the law of divine Love, where all of us currently and perpetually reside, it is our divine right to have access to good and suitable opportunities, and to be protected from dangers that would imprison us in fearful situations and cause us to flee our homes.
God’s people – every man, woman, and child – aren’t broken up into different countries, races, genders, and religions. His people are one united family, living in His jurisdiction, under His law, indelibly connected to Him. We possess the divine rights of freedom and fairness that come with living under the law of God’s good government, which includes “liberty and justice for all.”