“Independence Day” by Martina McBride
40 Days of Country – Song #21 – Lent 2016
Not only is Martina McBride one of the best-selling and most successful country music acts of all time, quite simply, she may also have arguably the best voice country music radio has ever heard. To this day, McBride’s rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner” continues to be one of my favorite live performances of the United States national anthem I have ever heard. With five #1 country singles, fourteen Grammy award nominations, and over 14 million records sold, it’s no surprise why Martina McBride is a four-time Country Music Awards female vocalist of the year.
A number of songs could be chosen as Martina McBride’s greatest hit of all time. 1994’s “Independence Day,” however, may not make everyone’s list, considering it only ever reached number 12 on the Country music charts. Not surprisingly, the music video for the song, which included the lyrics describing the victim of domestic abuse, her hometown willingly turning a blind-eye to the issue, and her eventual decision to burn her home to the ground (along with her abuser inside), didn’t exactly sit well with some of her more traditional, conservative audiences. It is, of course, for that very reason that this song was selected for this list. Truly, perhaps the most disappointing line in the song is not the retributive justice of “let the guilty pay,” but the dark reality so many experience, when McBride sings, “Some folks whispered and some folks talked but everybody looked the other way…”
The number of victims in the world today who can relate to scenario in this song is beyond a simple tragedy. The refrain of the song sings, “Let the weak be strong, let the right be wrong.” This is a sentiment that is shared by Hannah in 1 Samuel 2:8, when she sings, “God raises the poor from the dust, lifts up the needy from the garbage pile. God sits them with officials, gives them the seat of honor!” and then again by Mary in Luke 1:52-53 when she, likewise, sings, “[God] has pulled the powerful down from their thrones and lifted up the lowly. [God] has filled the hungry with good things and sent the rich away empty-handed.” These unlikely biblical women found strength in their hope for a different sort of “Independence Day,” and that hope gave rise to their powerful voices of witness. Unfortunately, too many stories don’t have happy endings. Amidst the brokenness of this world, however, our God is a God of justice, who continuously sides with those who are struggling and suffering, offering mercy and hope anywhere that the goodness of creation is threatened. And while burning houses to the ground, as depicted in McBride’s song, may not be the way of Christ, as followers of Christ, there is certainly more that can be done to shine light in the darkest places.
God of mercy, allow us never to close our eyes or turn our backs to the suffering of so many innocent women and men throughout the world, many of whom may be closer to us than we ever imagined. Give us courage to speak out for justice, a boldness to shine light that exposes darkness, and a zeal to be agents of your love and mercy for those in need. Amen.