The Mob Won’t Stop the Beautiful Song of American Pluralism

Photo by Louis Velazquez on Unsplash

I have a deal with my younger son. I won’t ride him too hard about zoom school (are those video games I hear when he’s supposed to be multiplying fractions?) if he will read and discuss a poem with me every day. In this way, we have worked our way through an impressive amount of Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks, William Carlos Williams, and a little Walt Whitman, poets of American diversity, dignity, and possibility.   

In this way, we have conversations about the beauty of a national song made up of many different voices. That American song can be heard in so many places. In grocery stores and in hospitals, where essential workers of all backgrounds risk their own health to keep us fed and to help us heal. On sports teams, where diverse athletes have had to adhere to rigid regimens to keep playing so that we can keep watching.  

The song is heard most profoundly during elections – where we truly become ‘the American people’, engaging in the sacred act of electing the people who will govern and represent us. For centuries, “a people” meant those of the same race, ethnicity, or religion. In America, we are a people because we hold to the same principles, ideals outlined in our founding documents and enacted in the sacred acts of a common life together, the holiest of all being voting. 

Several months ago, the American people did their best singing by voting in record numbers during a pandemic and electing Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.  

At the U.S. Capitol this week, a cathedral of the song of pluralism, the blood-curdling screams of a mob did their best to drown out that American song. 

That there were white supremacist symbols on display, that some died in the melee, that they sought to disrupt a Constitutional procedure, that the police (who have often shown up in full body armor for largely-peaceful Black Lives Matter protests) were wholly unprepared for a long-planned event, that the conductor of this mob was the President of the United States – all of these things make January 6, 2021, a day that will live in infamy.  And yet, later that night, the song continued. Nancy Pelosi brought the House back into session with the Prayer of St Francis, and the counting of votes – the song of the people – was heard.  

So much depends on a red wheelbarrow, writes William Carlos Williams. It’s one of my favorite poems. My ten-year-old likes it because it’s simple, he thinks he got off easy the day we read that one. But I remind him that the poem is about not taking things for granted. Diversity, dignity, possibility – a variety of voices singing, and being heard. That is what it means to be in America. There’s been some distortion the past four years, and a brazen attempt at silencing in the last week, but as Whitman said, “I Hear America Singing”. That song is beautiful. We need to turn up the volume and join in. 

If you are looking for a way to become an interfaith leader, work for racial equity and build bridges, please check out our free curriculum "We Are Each Other's" and start your interfaith leadership today

more from IFYC

This is a sampling of sacred texts and statements, listed in alphabetical order by religion, that religious communities have used to engage in the work of public health amidst this global pandemic.
Ms. Moore discusses what an Office of Equity and Racial Justice does, how she and her team adapted amid the pandemic, and how religious communities are crucial partners for social change, connection, and healing.  
"We know that people of all faiths and philosophical traditions hold shared values that can serve as a foundation for a common life together."
How do we fight the evil and darkness during this time? No matter how small or how far we might be from the situation, we could use our voices to speak up, come to stand together as one human kind.
Musa writes an insightful analysis of data at the intersection of race and religion. He writes: "non-Black Americans seem to be fleeing religion because it’s become too political. Blacks seem to be leaving because it’s not political enough."
And as the Muslim holy month of Ramadan begins, the currently closed museum is highlighting these artifacts tied to Islam on its website's blog.
In light of the urgent need for care within our families, communities, and movements, where can and should interfaith leaders fit in?
In the United States, our laws assure the separation of Church and State. So Sikh and Muslim kids growing up in public schools will never be taught that Jesus was born in a manger in Bethlehem.
Vaisakhi, which falls April 13 or 14 depending on which of two dueling calendars one follows, marks the day in 1699 when Sikhism took its current form.
The presentation focused on how chaplains and spiritual life professionals can discover and utilize meaningful data to demonstrate the value of their work in higher education.
Still, there were glimmers that Ramadan 2021 could feel less restricted than last year, when Islam’s holiest period coincided with the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
Ramadan, the holiest month of the Islamic calendar commemorating Muhammad’s reception of the Qur’an, begins on Monday.
"Ramadan can be an opportunity for Muslims in interfaith relationships to introduce their partners to the core beliefs and teachings of Islam, as well as to the ways different Muslim cultures share what is a deeply communal experience."
This year, Ramadan will begin on Monday or Tuesday (April 12 or 13), depending on when Muslims around the world sight the new moon that signals the beginning of the lunar month.
"In the Qur’an, God – Exalted Be He – proclaims that we should ask the people endowed with knowledge…All the experts are saying the same thing: please get vaccinated and do it now."
"Among the topics educators must address to reduce bullying and to ensure representation in the classroom are religion and religious identity."
Whether I am based in Los Angeles, Washington DC, or Kansas City, I remain committed to building bridges of mutual respect and understanding among people of different backgrounds.
Biden said the partnership between the seminary and a community health center is one of many that are happening between religious and medical organizations across the nation.
"All the more so, we need more translators to help us understand what exists before our eyes, yet remains elusive to our understanding."
'Montero' is the anthem of a Black gay man roaring back from years of self-hate caused by anti-LGBTQ+ theologies. As a queer child of the Black church, it’s an anthem that resonates with me.
The rise of the "nones" — people who say they have no religion — is to some extent the result of a shift in how Americans understand religious identity.

The opinions contained in this piece are solely the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of Interfaith Youth Core. Interfaith America encourages a wide range of views and strives to maintain a respectful tone with a goal of greater understanding and cooperation between people of different faiths, worldviews, and traditions.