It has become common American culture to wrap ourselves in nationalistic pride and wave it around wherever we go. It’s how much of the world sees us as Americans. Pride has become our obnoxious Red, White, and Blue calling card to much of the carefully watching people, all around us.
We’re PROUD to be an American!!!
We sing it. We shout it. We wave it in the face of one another, even inside our own borders, across political aisles, often making our self-accredited showcase of patriotism an odd and awkward contest of grandiose pride… like two puffed-up dudes comparing the size of, well … hands.
I’m not immune to this identity… not one bit.
I love my country. I love what I *think* it stands for. I love the people in it. I love the ideals that these the United States of America were founded upon.
But, I am at a point in my journey where I am attempting to look at the puzzle pieces of life, and instead of using a pair of scissors, a hammer, and a crowbar to make disjointed things fit; I am instead attempting to carefully examine each and every small piece and place it where I think it more correctly belongs… even if I’m unsure of the total big picture being made. If I’m going to actually follow Jesus, and go down the road less traveled, no matter where it leads, I have to take things like pride, and place them in their proper place.
There’s a Proverb that says, “Pride ends in humiliation, while humility brings honor.” (Prov 29:23)
Jesus said, “Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt 18:4)
These thoughts, words, and a spirit-driving yearning, compel me to step back and realize some tough to digest truths being revealed to my soul. I am immensely blessed, mostly by no doing of my own.
I was born into a healthy body, in a time in history with relative peace and comfort. I was born into a good family, who loved me and taught me well. I was born into a place of wealth, advancement and opportunity, within a structured balance of freedom and law which creates an unbelievable environment for growth and success.
Yes. I have also worked hard and earned much of what I tangibly have, and that with the direct influence of many others has helped make myself into who I am, right now. This is an essential part of the equation as well.
But, I have a choice when I look upon the reality of my blessings and earnings. I can choose pride or I can choose humility. I can stand upon my portion of controlled merit, and look down upon others not so inclined or fortuitous… OR, I can use the whole product of my being, both the random-happenstance of beautiful creation and my active participation inside it and use it to humbly serve others.
As a white, male, hard-working, middle class Christian in the reigning global super-power, I need to make a choice. Am I PROUD to be an American? Does this statement resonate with the Spirit of Christ, who humbled himself, and carried the cross, for all creation… Does this statement ring in harmony with Him?
The more I ask such questions, the more an awakening Spirit inside me helps know peace, and the more cognizant I am of my lack of good, clear responses. I simply don’t have good answers anymore… Just more impossible questions.
But, here’s what I am slowly learning…
I’m not nearly as free as I am often told I am. Things are never as good or as bad as the mob would lead me to believe. Each and every law that exists creates a structure of exploitable power and manipulation, where violence is the only end-game for social enforcement. Nothing lasts forever… especially stable systems of government. I am immeasurably and unconditionally loved despite all of this.
Please do not misunderstand. I am not one bit against America. I stood as a young man, raised my right hand, and took an oath to uphold and defend the constitution of the United States of America. I still long to honor that oath… swearing my humble honor, to defend and protect its ideals of, “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” as it described by our Declaration of Independence.
That all said, I am learning each new day to see things though new filters.
I am not blind nor ignorant. This country is not without its historical flaws and baggage. It’s okay to say so. And it is okay to look and see the progress that has been and is being made, and say so too. It’s also okay to know we as a nation aren’t perfect now, and never will be… and say that as well.
It is only pride which would prevent such truths from being recognized or left-out as deniable.
I am humbled to be an American. It is an honor and a privilege to be born here, and to have served under the stars and stripes… a privilege I long to treat not as some banner to arrogantly wave in the face of those not so fortunate as imputed citizens, but as a privilege of hope that stands as a sign of unique unioned-independence. A true and wondrous display of freedom, expressed in selfless, shared-partnership… Standing as one, indivisible… Not by the enactment and enforcement of better law, but by the unleashed power of co-suffering love and unmerited grace.
Happy Independence Day.