Thursday, November 05, 2009

Quick thought on patriotism

Over the past decade or so, as I've struggled with applying the teachings of Jesus to societal structures and not just on my own individual faith, I've thought a lot about national pride. I come from a wonderful family with many who served in the military, and who love this country. My wife, who is Argentine but became a US citizen in the 90s, has commented many times over the years at my patriotism, usually because she has seen how much I love the national anthem (and get really bothered when people start cheering at a sporting event before the song is actually over--it's very somber for me).

I've also spent time with many people from other countries and cultures, and think really about how much "God so loved the world", and wonder about the proper sense of national pride for one who lives in two worlds, one whose ultimate loyalty belongs to the King of kings, not to any man, woman, creed or ideology. I'm reading 5 Cities that Ruled the World: How Jerusalem, Athens, Rome, London and New York Shaped Global History, and came across this quote, which I wanted to share:

When patriotism goes to seed, becoming a jingoistic nationalism, it gives patriotism a bad name. It is the difference between gratitude and arrogant pride. Patriotism stifles the spirit of war, nationalism breeds wars. Patriotism is catholic, nationalism is sectarian. Patriotism understands and enters into the affection that others have for their place.

What do you think? How does a lover of Jesus loyal to the kingdom of God live a patriotic life in the US? What about those believers who live in Argentina, or Spain? Or Iraq or Palestine?

I thank God for the freedom I've been able to enjoy in this life. May I never take for granted political and economic freedom, or the spiritual freedom that comes only from Jesus.


Regina said...

I've always wondered if I should be independent falling somewhere between the far left and the far right. I am pro-life, for private enterprise, and lean towards a moderately conservative view. But I also agree that all citizens should not die because they couldn't afford getting a sonogram or mammogram. Those who are unable to take care of themselves should be given a helping hand, the rich shouldn't just keep getting richer while there are children who are living in destitute situations without food and safe shelter. Companies that serve those in the private sector need some kind of accountability to keep their pride from destroying them and everyone else affiliated with them. We need to be good stewards of the earth and reduce, reuse and recycle. Finding alternative types of energy that would help cut out pollution, and toxic waste is also good stewardship. Consumption for consumption's sake is dangerous and hazardous. As long as it is dependent on us, we need to seek peace with others through diplomacy and friendship. But we also need a strong military to help defend our country when we are attacked. Just as I have the freedom to worship God without fear of persecution, so my neighbor should have the freedom not to without fear of persecution under the protection of the Constitution.

It's annoying that we are forced to side on extremist lines, either on the right or left. On the left, I am seen as a baby hating, tree hugging, Nazi that would spit at the thought of God. On the right, I'm a narrow minded, bigoted, uneducated Bible beating red-neck who cares for nothing else other than oil and deer hunting. Oh, and big hair.

I feel that neither describes me, leaving me with the dilemma of how to wisely engage in the political process and vote for my leaders.

Arnie Adkison said...

Regina, you are spot-on. There are 2 or 3 things I would pull out of what you say in summary--first, the move to push everything away from the middle and demand extremism is dangerous for believers. Second, thinking faith requires not that we adopt standard positions but that we use redeemed minds to understand all sides of issues and take what we believe to be the most biblical, Jesus-like point of view. Your example of healthcare is the primary one we should be dealing with today. As a "conservative" I thing government should be relatively small, that my taxes should go to essential services, etc. But as a "progressive" I want everyone regardless of their wealth to have access to basic healthcare. The labels no longer work.

Thanks for sharing!