Monday, July 4, 2011

Blessed to Be an American: Day 28 of the Count Your Blessings Challenge

It has been two hundred thirty five years since the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

Since that time, there have been forty four presidents, almost half as many wars and conflicts, the invention of the electric light, the automobile, telephone, and computer. The economy has faltered several times and we have righted grave errors, one being the institution of slavery, another the problem of monopolies (oops-we haven't managed that one yet, and perhaps not completed our work on the abolition of slavery) .

From all appearances the old patriot is somewhat of a laughingstock. It is no longer quite as fashionable to love your country. Funny thing though. We still do. Are we leaving in droves? Quite the contrary. We have a big immigration problem. And if you look around there are A LOT of new Americans. According to author Carol M.Swain, PhD, in her book, Be the People,  there is an organization that whisks over wealthy foreigners just in time to have a baby, thus accomplishing citizenship for the sake of citizenship, not residence. The people in other countries know things about America that we have taken as a matter of course.If you don't believe this, ask them why they've come. I've heard stories of children having to cross barbed wire to go to school, of religious persecution. I learned this just because I asked, "Why did you come here?" I've heard that even in some highly developed countries clerks wouldn't think of smiling or asking, "How can I help you?" when you walk into a store.

The new patriot's time has come. Above all, the new patriot needs to be wise, not just sappy over the sight of the flag, as I admit I do. However, my kids don't. What happened? Many of us are sitting around waiting for America to deliver on that promise, our dream. We don't even know we're living it. We may have set our sights on material blessings rather than the original American dream of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.Who among us can say he doesn't enjoy all three in some measure?

Last I checked, the majority of my neighbors were still friendly, polite, and followed the law. They didn't open fire on me because we have a different religion. When I go the the bank or the grocery store, there is a reasonable exchange, and the food supply is unhampered and regulated. My roads are fixed, my mail delivered, my local courthouse is trying cases and putting criminals behind bars. I can have as many children as I like, of either gender. I am free to work where I like, to worship at any place of worship, to speak my mind in private, and in public. These are things that spring from a healthy law abiding society.

Globalization and awareness are the new bywords, the passwords of our culture. Jesus had a global worldview, and no one could accuse him of a lack of awareness. These are not new virtues, but are sometimes used as emotional buttons to promote a narrow rather than broad agenda. Today's patriot should know what is happening down the block as well as around the world. After all, every action, no matter how small has consequences.

I just met a young man who is voluntarily joining the Marines next week. My own brother just finished basic training with the Army and will be stationed in Seoul, Korea as a Chaplain's assistant. Why do people do this? Ask them. It's an education to talk to a soldier. An education we all need. For the new patriot knows things, about his country, about her neighbors, about the world.

I pledge allegiance to America. Not because it's perfect, but because it's up to me to make America better.

The goal of freedom and justice for all is a lofty one.

We are not the people we used to be.

But we are not yet the people we should be.

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