For a native-born citizen, patriotism is a natural response. It is reinforced from childhood by the daily recitation in school of the Pledge of Allegiance. It is celebrated with parades, fireworks, music, bunting, and flags.
There is much beauty and variety in this land we call home. There are mountains, hills, buttes, rivers, lakes, evergreen trees, deciduous trees, palm trees, meadows, geysers, caverns, deserts, creatures that fly, that run, that crawl, that swim – so much beauty calling us to appreciate God’s creation. America also boasts artists, musicians, poets, writers, educators, healers, those with athletic prowess – so many people with skills to enhance and to benefit the human family. Yes, love of one’s country is laudable.

But blind patriotism is never laudable. Citizens must call for their country to be faithful to the values that created it. Today we live in an America that is in crisis. Current events have exposed our shame. Today’s America strikes out systematically and prejudicially against non-white races. We watched as a man named George Floyd was murdered by our police. We were witnesses to the naked truth of brutality from those sworn to uphold the law.

Today’s America does not seem to value the common good; particularly, the poor, the aged, and people of color. We limit support for research and reporters tell us that we responded slowly to the threat of Covid-19 so that many more people died. We remained inactive and resorted to limited testing in the first stages of what is now a global pandemic. The president appears to devalue vaccines and testing while he blindly asserts that “this will simply go away on its own”.

The Statue of Liberty proclaims: Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free… But in today’s America, the tired and poor are no longer welcome. Refugees stand
at our border and we label these sisters and brothers as illegal and criminal. We keep them from entering or we send them back with little concern for their safety.

Today’s America rejects reasonable and safe gun laws, permitting the senseless slaughter of our children and youth. School shootings have become a common occurrence. CNN reported that in the year 2019 “in 46 weeks there were 45 school shootings. That’s nearly an average of one school shooting a week.”

Today’s America values little beyond money in our governmental policies. So, we reduce regulations to prevent pollution, we institute tariffs, and we support discriminating tax laws. As citizens it is time to call our country back to our best founding values and dreams. This is beginning to happen. In today’s America, there are multiple groups marching, calling for change. There is a groundswell of protest marches which are visual, verbal, and present in our cities. These movements are asking for our support and participation. It is time to speak, for our voice to be heard. It will take all of us. As Valarie Kaur (founder of the Revolutionary Love Project https://revolutionaryloveproject.com/) asserts, we must act together to change unjust systems.

Together, we recognize that patriotism and love of country demands that we name and repent our sins. We must renew our commitment to create an honorable and just country in order to leave a worthy and noble legacy to our children. That commitment will insure a happy fourth of July!

Photo: fourth_of_july by Fotis Bobolas / CC BY-SA 2.0