I love so many things about our great nation: March Madness, recycling, voting, ice in my drinks, Costco, smoke-free restaurants. There is much to love.
I grew up being taught and believing that . . .
- American colonists partnered with and benefited Native Americans.
- 19th Century Southerners treated their slaves well.
- Robert E. Lee was a great man who made the heart-wrenching choice to support his family over his country.
- American troops saved the world against fascism in the 20th Century.
- We (Americans) are the Good Guys. We don’t do what Bad Guy nations do (i.e. torture, slaughter, break treaties.)
The truth is clearly more complicated. There is a great deal of historic documentation proving that we were not always The Good Guys.
After 9/11, the question was “Why Do They Hate Us?” – especially if we are so good? The truth is that money has been our god from the beginning: We could make big money off tobacco and other native American crops. We could amass wealth if we didn’t pay for labor. We could control stories to benefit ourselves all for the sake of financial gain. Perhaps you see this practice today in terms of how our current administration is governing this nation.
We can be blind to what is true. Or we can shine a light to reveal the truth. And this is a spiritual choice. (That’s why we in the Church encourage Prayers of Confession. Acknowledging the truth about ourselves is essential to spiritual growth.)
No longer can we call ourselves A Christian Nation – and not only because non-Christian faiths are also protected by law.
We cannot call ourselves a Christian nation:
- if we refuse to provide clean water to every city,
- if we refuse to treat all Americans (from Puerto Ricans to Appalachians) fairly,
- if we continue to torture prisoners or tolerate those who have tortured people in our name,
- if we regulate traveling pets more than we regulate the sale of assault weapons,
- if we have different rules for black and brown and golden people than we have for white people,
- if we tolerate a President (of any political party) who displays contempt for what is honorable, fair, and true.
I love our country and this country has been good to me. But this country has not been good to many others. It’s harder to be a poor person, a Person of Color, an immigrant, and a physically and/or mentally ill person in this country than in many other places in the world. And please do not say, “What about . . .?” What about South Sudan? What about North Korea? What about Bulgaria? What about Honduras?
If we truly want to be The Greatest Country on the Earth, why compare ourselves to the poorest, most dysfunctional nations? Why not aspire to bring freedom and justice to all? Why not aspire to offer the best healthcare, the best infrastructure, the best educational system for all Americans?
Where to begin? Please join The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival. For the love of God, who can argue that we don’t need moral revival?
This is a movement with the poor – not for the poor. At the root of all racism, sexism, and classism is the issue of greed. (Not a new story.) And at the root of all things destructive are lies that we tell ourselves about ourselves, about our country, about each other.
We can be a better country than this. Let’s unite as a nation – regardless of color, religion, or political party – to be a better nation with liberty and justice for all.
Thanks for reading,
Image of Robert Shetterly’s children’s book Americans Who Tell the Truth – a collection of portraits of famous Americans – initated after the attacks on 9-11-01.