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 country, is laudable and natural.

But blind patriotism is never laudable. Citizens must call for their country to be faithful to the values that created it. The Statue of Liberty proclaims: Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free… Breathing free and love of country allows, perhaps even encourages, dissent. The United States was founded with strong and praiseworthy common values – liberty, equality, common good, right to worship, pursue happiness, justice for all – to name a few.

But today we live in an America that is in peril. Today’s America disregards the common good and we no longer welcome the tired and poor. Refugees stand at our border and we tear their children from their arms to warehouse them. We label these sisters and brothers as illegal and criminal when we are the ones committing the heinous act. Today’s America abandons the poor and the aged, denying them healthcare, pharmaceutical equity, and financial assistance. Today’s America strikes out systematically and prejudicially against the non-white races. We accept brutality on our streets even from those sworn to uphold the law. Today’s America rejects reasonable and safe gun laws, permitting the senseless slaughter of our children and youth. Today’s America values little beyond money in our governmental policies. So, we reduce regulations to prevent pollution, we institute tariffs, we support discriminating tax laws, and we blame those who need help. This is no longer America the beautiful.

As loyal citizens it is time to call our country back to the founding values. 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) asserts, we must act together to change unjust systems. We are not alone and it is beginning. There are multiple groups marching, calling for change. There are movements asking for our support and participation; such as, Reclaiming Jesus, the Revolutionary Love Project, the high school March for our Lives, the Poor Peoples Campaign, No More Deaths.

Together, we recognize that patriotism, love of country, demands that we reconcile our sins of the past and renew our commitment to an honorable present in order to leave a worthy and noble legacy to our children. That commitment insures a happy fourth of July!

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