Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Has Anyone Seen My Patriotism?

Tomorrow is the 4th of July.

And I'm really struggling to love my country. It's almost like a crisis of faith. The things that I have long believed about America don't feel true anymore. I believed in the ideals of Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. I believed that All (men) Are Created Equal. I believed in a government with checks and balances. I believed in representational government, freedom of speech, separation of church and state, the right to bear arms, that our judicial system is designed to be fair and balanced, that being born in the US makes you a citizen of the US, the power of our voting system, and so on.

I don't see our country's values these days. I don't see our country's values in the past few decades, really. But it is worse right now. It is glaring and ugly. The things happening are in stark contrast to what we are supposed to stand for in the world.

I don't find myself feeling proud of my country or our flag or our anthem or our pledge or any of those hallmarks of patriotism these days.

And it breaks my heart.

Back in high school, I was deeply moved by the war of my generation - the Gulf War. I read accounts of soldiers in People magazine. I dated a Navy man. I took up a collection at school to send care packages to those in the Gulf. I was deeply impacted by the sacrifice that those who were in the military made. I still have deep respect for our military - veterans and those currently serving.

I have always stood and sung the National Anthem at sporting events. I've even been known to shed a tear. Well, I used to, anyway.

I vote in every election. I protect my rights and the rights of others.

I swear to you that I love my country. Or at least the idea of the country I was raised to believe in.

Not a country where we treat humans as if they were no better than unwanted animals. Which we have done in the past and have continued to do and now are doing again. Slavery, racism, immigrants in "detention centers."

Not a country where the treatment of women is so unimportant that our judicial system works to protect rapists rather than provide justice for those who have been raped.

Not a country where black and brown people continue to be treated inequitably because we aren't doing anything to fix the education system, the government lines, the resources that continue racism rather than stop it.

Not a country that looks the other way at the mistreatment of the LGBTQ+ community.

The things I see all sound like they should be atrocities happening in some other country that I could then shake my fist at and hold my hear high because my United States of America would NEVER...

Except these United States most certainly do.


This Fourth of July, I'm going to focus on Lady Liberty.

A gift from France to the USA to celebrate and honor our 100th birthday, our democracy, our relationship with France, the abolition of slavery, etc.

She's a woman.

The rays of her crown represent the continents of the Earth - reminding us that Liberty isn't just about our country.

Broken chains and shackles at her feet - breaking tyranny and oppression, a symbol of fought for freedom.

Her torch shining as a beacon to those seeking light.

She isn't standing still - her foot is forward, showing us that she will lead us. She will guide our way to Liberty.

Her official title is "The Statue of Liberty Enlightening the World."

She is the Mother of Exiles.

Related image

The New Colossus
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

Emma Lazarus
November 2, 1883