Now that Independence Day has come and gone, I’ve been thinking a lot about liberty, freedom and justice. As Americans, we are taught to pledge our allegiance to a flag that ensures liberty and justice for all. We want to stand united, stand under God and stand big in tall in a world filled with poverty, war and brokenness. We have our American Pride, our American Dream and our American Way.
Before the fourth, I read several articles about what it means to celebrate America while following Jesus. I admit that I was feeling very unpatriotic. I have an issue with a lot of the pumped-up American pride. I’m pretty sure Jesus would not pledge allegiance to a flag. And I’m confident that many Americans have neither liberty, freedom nor justice when it comes to issues of poverty and discrimination.
As I was feeling all, “What’s up America? Where’s the justice? Where’s the unity? Where’s the love?” I began to follow some news on justice issues around the globe. I learned that the majority of women in Egypt face harassment every day. I heard about a Columbian journalist who was killed for speaking out against corruption. Another journalist in Sudan was jailed for her report on an alleged rape. In light of the DSK drama, I learned that many women in France are subjected to sexual-harassment and discrimination regularly. The list goes on and on.
I began to think that maybe we, as a country, are doing a lot of things really well. Maybe I shouldn’t feel disdain towards those who claim to bleed red, white and blue.
I realize that in many other countries, as a woman, as a follower of Jesus, as an advocate for social justice, and as a young person with a voice, I could be jailed, persecuted, executed or condemned to a life of silence. I am incredibly grateful for the freedom I am allowed. We have, in fact, gotten many things right.
And yet, I still have issues pledging my allegiance to a country. It doesn’t make sense. God never claimed that Americans are better or more important or more worthy than other people. God does not favor America. Yet we try to claim God as ours and only ours. We claim to be built on Christian principles, but so often we forget the foundation of Jesus’ teaching: love and unity. We sing This Land is Your Land, but we really don’t mean that for people who are outsiders in terms of race, economics, sexuality, religion or citizenship.
Yes, I love America and it’s important to realize and be thankful for all of the amazing opportunities I have here. But God does not create borders and I’m tired of American exceptionalism. We aren’t perfect, we don’t have all the answers, and not all Americans are living the dream.
It is my hope that instead of pride, we can focus on peace. I hope we can realize, through massive amounts of grace, what liberty, freedom and justice really look like. They look like Jesus. They look like lives committed to love. God bless America, and God bless this entire earth, each and every ounce of creation.