As much as I am outspoken against churches who act as though they worship our country more than Jesus and our foreign policy that does little to provide security or true aid to anyone except the deep pockets of defense contractors, I deeply love my country. On this, her 241st birthday, there are two emotions that fill my heart--thankfulness and pride.
I am thankful to be an American. As much as I have been blessed to travel around the world, through dozens of countries and cultures, there is nowhere that feels like home nor is there anywhere else that I want to call home. There are many countries I would love to live in, at least for a time. There are many more I want ot visit. And as tragically flawed as we have been historically, and as imperfect as we are currently, I recognize that America is still the lighthouse of freedom around the world and a magnet for those, young and old, who dream of making a better life for themselves and their families. This is still the nation others look to for leadership and example. This is still the place where I want to raise my family and be at home.
I am proud to be an American. We are very, very far from perfect--tragically so--but looking back on our history reveals an obvious, continual love of freedom and a struggle to realize that freedom for all. I will be the first to point out that "for all" is sadly still not "everyone without exception" as it should be. We have horrible racism in our past and our present. We have horrible sexism in our past and our present. We have horrible xenophobia in our past and our present. But I honestly believe, as a nation, we are trying--slowly and imperfectly--but we are trying. Our history, more than any other nation in the world, is filled with the painful contention and hopeful realization of freedom for all people, even though we haven't entirely realized that goal yet.
So this Fourth of July, I am thankful and proud. As a nation of 241 years, we are still a mess, we are still far from perfect, and we are still under construction...but we are still making progress.
Photo credit: Stephanie McCabe via Unsplash