—July 2022—

How to Be Better Patriots

by Rabbi Nancy Kasten
The meme spread quickly after the Supreme Court overthrew Roe v. Wade:

Independence Day, 2022 has come and gone. Some Americans lived through it happily and safely. Others fled from gunmen or from states where they were denied life-saving medical treatment. Division between and among Americans is exposing us to the very “dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within” that our independence aspired to address. The recently concluded Supreme Court term fostered plenty of discussion about the Constitution, but little about the Declaration of Independence.

The Declaration of Independence lays out both the rationale for our nation’s independence from England and the justification for our continued vigilance in protecting it. It’s worth our time to attend again to its words:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,

That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.

But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.


When a holiday that celebrates our nation’s independence becomes a day of mourning for American civilians killed by other Americans at a Fourth of July Parade, it underscores our nation’s failure to achieve a safe haven for all who reside here. If we are to do better, without further bloodshed and loss of life, we all have to be better patriots. Our love of self, God, and party cannot be divorced from our love of our fellow Americans, our compatriots. 

The late Republican-appointed Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor exemplified this kind of patriotism when explaining the 1992 Supreme Court ruling on Planned Parenthood v. Casey, “Some of us as individuals find abortion offensive to our most basic principles of morality. But that can’t control our decision. Our obligation is to define the liberty of all, not to mandate our own moral code.” Justice O’Connor distinguished among her responsibilities to herself, her God, her political party, and her country; and as a Supreme Court justice she knew which responsibility came first.

Keep Reading

Resources & References

Let’s consider the relationship between our own freedom and grace towards others. 
Our Longing For Freedom by Melissa Florer-Bixler, How to Have an Enemy: Righteous Anger and the Work of Peace, p. 134

"We may not know what Jefferson meant by "men" and "self government," but Ronald Reagan seems to have thought he meant human beings and a democratically elected representational government. My 28-year-old daughter did not go to a Fourth of July party in Los Angeles because of the shootings in Highland Park. So much for celebrating our freedom." - Rabbi Nancy Kasten 
Ronald Reagan's Address To The Nation On Independence Day, July 4, 1986

Which comes first, God or Country?
Christian Nationalists Are Excited About What Comes Next, The New York Times

Let’s admit it; there are no absolutes when it comes to truth. 
There Is No Freedom Without A Common Truth, UT News

Another elected official who confuses identity politics with patriotism:
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton's Speech on Religious Liberty at the Liberty Institute, April 2015

The Revolutionary Love approach to dealing with our despair:
How Revolutionary Love Can Help Us Resist The Overthrow Of Roe v. Wade

And, finally, another great resource to guide us through this moment:
Mind & Life Podcast: Liberation Through Love And Connection
“A colleague told me that he thinks of his life as an orchestra. Reclaiming his integrity reminds him of that moment before the concert when the concertmaster asks the oboist to sound an A. 'At first there is chaos and noise as all parts of the orchestra try to align themselves with that note. But as each instrument moves closer and closer to it, the noise diminishes and when they all finally sound it together, there is a moment of rest, of homecoming.'

'That is how it feels to me,' he told me. 'I am always tuning my orchestra. Somewhere deep inside there is a sound that is mine alone, and I struggle daily to hear it and tune my life to it. Sometimes there are people and situations that help me to hear my note more clearly; other times, people and situations make it harder for me to hear. A lot depends on my commitment to listening and my intention to stay coherent with this note. It is only when my life is tuned to my note that I can play life's mysterious and holy music without tainting it with my own discordance, my own bitterness, resentment, agenda, and fears.'

Deep inside, our integrity sings to us whether we are listening or not. It is a note that only we can hear.”

― Rachel Naomi Remen, My Grandfather's Blessings: Stories of Strength, Refuge, and Belonging

Coming Up

Public Lecture and Workshop with Valarie Kaur

We are excited to announce that our two-part event with Valarie Kaur has been rescheduled for September 8 & 9!

Valarie Kaur will speak about her experience as an activist, a mother and a Sikh American and how to use tools of revolutionary love.

Public Lecture & Book Signing
Thursday, September 8, 2022
7:30 - 9:00 p.m. Central
at the Dallas Holocaust & Human Rights Museum
Tickets: $15

Valarie Kaur will be coming to Dallas to teach us and inspire us toward revolutionary love.

Ms. Kaur is a renowned civil rights leader, lawyer, award-winning filmmaker, educator, innovator, and best-selling author of SEE NO STRANGER. She leads the Revolutionary Love Project to reclaim love as a force for justice. Valarie burst into American consciousness in the wake of the 2016 election when her Watch Night Service address went viral with 40 million views worldwide. Her question “Is this the darkness of the tomb – or the darkness of the womb?” reframed the political moment and became a mantra for people fighting for change.

This lecture event—to include a book signing—is open to the public.
Purchase Tickets

Intensive Workshop
Friday, September 9, 2022
11:00 a.m. Central
at Paul Quinn College in the Grand Lounge
Tickets: $250

The following day, September 9, Ms. Kaur will lead us in an intensive workshop. Tickets for this workshop are $250, and can be purchased here when you click on "Tickets." A copy of See No Stranger is included with this ticket purchase, as well as a box lunch. The workshop is being held September 9 at 11:00 a.m. at Paul Quinn College in the Grand Lounge.
Purchase Tickets

Event Sponsors
The presenting sponsor is Faith Commons, and the following are partnering sponsors: Brett and Mara Bim | Brenda Brand | Steve and Gail Brookshire | Communities Foundation of Texas | The DFW Sikh Community | Lauren Embry | Empire Bakery/Meaders and Robert Ozarow | Faith Forward Dallas | Fellowship Southwest | First United Methodist Church | Friendship West Baptist Church | Rev. Amy and Dr. David Moore | National Council of Jewish Women Greater Dallas | North Texas Alliance to Reduce Unintended Pregnancy in Teens (Ntarupt) | North Texas Conference of the United Methodist Church | Sarah and Lee Papert | Pathways to Ministry | Paul Quinn College | People Newspapers | Retreat House Spirituality Center | SMU Baptist House of Studies | SMU Human Rights Program | SMU Maguire Center for Ethics | SMU Perkins School of Theology | Social Justice Task Force of Grace Presbytery | Temple Emanu-El | Texas Muslim Women’s Foundation | Thanksgiving Square Foundation | Wilshire Baptist Church

To become a sponsor, please email Rabbi Nancy Kasten at

"See No Stranger" Book Study with Retreat House
Wednesday, July 20
12:00 - 1:30 p.m. Central

Retreat House, one of our event co-sponsors, is facilitating a See No Stranger book study—available in person and online.

If you attend in person, soup and bread will be served.

More details here.

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