NOTE: I begin by referring you to Barbara Wendland’s current CONNECTIONS, the December Issue. If you care about The Christian Church, you really do not want to miss it.
People say, “Don’t you love your country?” Frankly, it irritates me. That’s like asking me, “Don’t you love your children?” Of course. And, sometimes I have to say, “No,” to them. Loving that does not include honesty and accountability doesn’t last long and isn’t dependable.So, I’m thinking about Patriotism. And I’m thinking about Democracy. Patriotism is pretty easy. You can stir up a pot of patriotism pretty easily: 1 part marching band, 1 part smartly dressed military personnel, 1 part waving flag and 1 part inspiring message from a President you’re proud of, and voilá, the warm blood of patriotism starts flowing through your body.
Don’t get me wrong. There is such a thing as genuine, deep patriotism: But there ought to be a rule that says you don’t get to wave the flag and talk about loving your country unless it has cost you something.
People who have served in the military, especially in combat; people who have sacrificed their life’s energies like Susan Antony or sacrificed their lives literally like Martin Luther King. Now add to that list people who have spent their lives fighting for justice and equality - these are patriotic Americans.
Real patriotism, authentic patriotism, shows up when citizens work to make the democratic process actually work. People and organizations that work to make voting inaccessible or difficult or confusing are enemies of our democracy. They are at best, cheaters. At worst, they are traitors of democracy and liberty. In America, loving one’s country necessarily means preserving and protecting democracy.
People who use our democracy to deny the rights of others, who manipulate constitutional law to allow corporations to steal from consumers, pollute the environment and use lawyers to defend immoral and unethical business practices, and who do not pay taxes are criminals.
If corporations will work to protect the environment, deal honestly with consumers and carry their fair share of taxes, they have nothing to fear from the rest of us. If they refuse, it’s only a matter of time until the whole, glorious American experiment ends up in a rotting landfill.
America is not a great nation because of its gross national product. Its greatness comes from its stewardship of the democracy that has been entrusted to it.
And being good stewards of Democracy is excruciatingly hard work. It takes effort, lots of effort. It takes concentration and faithfulness. It takes actual, out loud, vocalized objection to anything and everything that denies human rights and constitutional rights.
And, all of this means thinking critically, thinking carefully and staying diligently aware of the differences between thinking and feeling.
They’re not going away! Like the common cold, “Nones” are contagious and growing beyond the millennials to all segments of society, regardless of age or previous religious affiliation. PETER LAARMAN offers a thorough, eye-opening article on Religion Dispatches where he interviews several prominent and informed individuals about why a quarter of all Americans “describe their religion as ‘nothing in particular.’ ” Kaya Oakes, author of “The Nones Are Alright,” is one of the individuals Peter interviews and offers new and revealing insight as to why the “Nones” are rapidly growing in numbers. READ PETER LAARMAN’S ARTICLE FROM RELIGION DISPATCHES, “Refusing Religion, Claiming The Future: A Roundtable Discussion On “The Nones Are Alright.”