Editor’s Note: Nine years ago today Rep. Dennis Kucinich offered a "Prayer for America" at an event sponsored by the Southern California Americans for Democratic Action in Los Angeles. The Nation is republishing Kucinich’s comments, with a new introduction by the Congressman contemplating what has changed, and what hasn’t, in American life and politics, since this address.
Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The anthrax attack. The Patriot Act. Those were the themes in a speech which I gave nine years ago in Los Angeles, entitled "Prayer for America." Today the news is about…the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, the anthrax attack, the Patriot Act.
We keep circling back to where we began: One war based on lies, another war based on arrogance and ignorance of history, both eventually contributing trillions to the deficit while we cut non-defense discretionary spending. The war machine is engulfing the rest of the government.
The House and Senate are debating reauthorization of the Patriot
Act but there will be little debate over spending another $158 billion for the wars. We are escalating conflict in Afghanistan. We are simultaneously in and out of Iraq.
We read the US Constitution at the beginning of this new session of Congress, but what does it mean? What amnesia, anesthesia, psychic numbness has occured while we grimly push round and round the wheel of war, paying trillions of dollars for the privilege of grinding ourselves and others into the blood-soaked dirt.
We’re living in a tragic version of Bill Murray’s movie "Groundhog Day," where day in and day out we slumber in the arms of the national security state awakening to the color Orange. Our physical bodies are transparent to the security x-rays, but our government is opaque. How extensive is FBI spying? Who sent the anthrax which killed five people? Did the FBI fumble scientific evidence? Some fret about WikiLeaks while the lives of dutiful US soldiers and countless innocents are destroyed. War is a masqued ball, our goverment waltzing the freedom phantom abroad and dancing with its flickering shadow at home. Iraq. Afghanistan. The anthrax attack. The Patriot Act. Pray for America, indeed.
I offer these brief remarks today as a prayer for our country, with love of democracy, as a celebration of our country. With love for our country. With hope for our country. With a belief that the light of freedom cannot be extinguished as long as it is inside of us. With a belief that freedom rings resoundingly in a democracy each time we speak freely. With the understanding that freedom stirs the human heart and fear stills it. With the belief that a free people cannot walk in fear and faith at the same time.
With the understanding that there is a deeper truth expressed in the unity of the United States. That implicit in the union of our country is the union of all people. That all people are essentially one. That the world is interconnected not only on the material level of economics, trade, communication, and transportation, but innerconnected through human consciousness, through the human heart, through the heart of the world, through the simply expressed impulse and yearning to be and to breathe free.
I offer this prayer for America.
Let us pray that our nation will remember that the unfolding of the promise of democracy in our nation paralleled the striving for civil rights. That is why we must challenge the rationale of the Patriot Act. We must ask why should America put aside guarantees of constitutional justice?