It is true. I am glad that my parents were both American citizens when I was born. I was glad that I was able to serve as a Peace Corps Volunteer as an American. I stand and put my hand over my heart when the National Anthem plays, and I have my own pretty decent rendition of it. I know the Pledge of Allegiance and I can say it. I even can name at least a quarter of the past presidents, and I know what side of which wars some of my relatives were on. I am glad that we emancipated the slaves, and that we have a rich history of civil rights.
And American is a misnomer. American could possibly be anyone from any of the American continents. We really should be careful and say “Citizen of the United States.” But not many people are that careful. And it is not just ourselves, but many others, from other nationalities that call those of us who are from the United States: Americans.
So. Am I proud?
I may be.
But I will not bow to the goddess of Americana.
She is not my god.
I have been angry this past week. I do not like the way that some in my community have chosen to see freedom.
I am free. I am free to be as good or as bad as I want. I live in a “land of Freedom.” But I am afraid that when we get so caught up in a land of freedom that we fail to realize the kind of freedoms that we seek.
Sure, we’re free. Free to attack any country that we think will be profitable for us. Free to levy taxes to pay for two or three decade long wars instead of investing in our children and in education and care for the poor.
We live in a capitalistic society, and yet we expect those who cannot get ahead to do it anyway. The Powers of Sin and Death are still alive and well in this world, and the Powers of Greed and Hate are keeping the least, the last, and the lost from being able to survive.
Who is an American, anyway? Is my friend, who came over as an illegal immigrant and then earned her green card? What about my friends whose ancestors were brought over to the Americas by force in the stank hull of a ship and then forced to work their fingers to the bone just to promote the good of the few? What about the Somali who came as a refugee, but still gets stopped at each and every checkpoint because she wears a hijab? Or my fellow Peace Corps Volunteer whose name got flagged, since he looks like an Iraqi? What about them? Do they know they are free?
That’s why I didn’t sing the pledge of allegiance on Sunday morning in church. Because my God is a God who saves, but even more importantly, a God who Loves. I made reference to the day’s occasion in the service, but I may have only made obscure reference to it, because I did not want to create more hate and anger than there already was.
Yes, the two towers were attacked. And so was the Pentagon and the Shanksville crash. I was scared then. I was sad then. I was worried then.
But now, I am still scared, I am still worried, and I am even more sad, because our first response was not one of love, or peace, or reconciliation, but an attack on two nations, when it was a radical rebel force that was working on its own.
How much hate will we defend?
How much Love can we open up?
It is pretty hard to love someone when you are holding a gun in your hands.
I want that Love. I want that Love to be here, for me, for you, for us.
I know I don’t know everything. I know that I do not understand all the economics and rules of war and peacetime. But I would like to have a time in my adult life when my country was not at war.
And that has not happened yet. My country has been overshadowed by hate, and fear and war since I became an adult.
I want my life instead to be filled with the light of life, and peace, and understanding, and the freedom that comes from fully following God. I want to be free to worship without fear. And though I know that Christians in the United States are not commonly attacked for their worship, I still want to be able to worship without having to worry about the politics of those around me. Faith is not about politics, it is about God, and Jesus. And, last time I checked, God is gonna have the last say.