As our nation celebrates the 4th of July today, I realize there might be a temptation to think only of the ironies of “Independence Day.” Today, many may think of our nation’s non-liberty-loving and questionable moral actions: Guantanamo, spying on citizens, war and drones. The list could go on.
But this morning as my husband and I were explaining the 4th of July to our three-year-old daughter, I was overcome by the feeling that we, as parents and as a nation, must not give into the cynical temptation to disregard today and other, similar celebrations of our country.
The analogy that came to mind was that of a marriage anniversary. Marriage inevitably brings ups and downs, problems, arguments, maybe even questionable moral actions. We are exposed, daily, to our spouse’s weaknesses. But when the marriage anniversary roles around, those things are put aside, and the love between husband and wife is celebrated. The bad is left to be focused on another day. And those two things are essential: 1) the celebration of what is right and good, and 2) when the day has come and gone, focusing on the problems that do exist.
For better or worse, we are married to a country that, like a spouse, has good and bad and moral and evil. Today is the anniversary of our country. So let’s celebrate, and tomorrow and all the 364 other days that follow, let’s build up our metaphorical marriage by loving what’s lovable, recognizing strengths, and working towards solving problems instead of throwing up our hands in dismissal and disgust.
Happy 4th of July!
6 thoughts on “Celebrating the 4th of July Even When We Feel Let Down by Our Country”
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When I was in Grade 6, autograph books became popular among the girls in my class. We wrote awkward cliches in each others’ decorative albums and were particularly delighted when our teacher, who was taking painting lessons, made beautiful water colour pictures in our books. I asked my parents to write in my book. They were in the somewhat complex process of immigrating to the US, complex because my father had worked for the Canadian government during WW II on the development of atomic energy and clearance procedures were lengthy. My request was given low priority. I niggled and begged; other parents had written in their daughter’s autograph albums. On the eve of our departure, I finally extracted a promise from my dad; he actually took my book into his brief case. That night he took time after the moving van had left to pen a message I would read after I woke up in New York State. I am not sure where that little book is — somewhere in the house — but the words are strong in my memory and run like this, dated
“January 18, 1953. Your sister’s 10th birthday.
“Tomorrow President Eisenhower moves into the big White House in Washington, D.C.. Today, we move into the little white house in Colonial Village. Never forget that God is as interested in the little people who make up a nation as in the big people who lead it. May God give you many years to grow and prosper in this new land. Love, Daddy”
As Christians we believe our citizenship is in the Kingdom of Heaven, our first priority being to bring those values taught and exemplified by Jesus into relationships and circumstances wherever we live by the accident of our birth or are led, often by forces beyond our control. God is greater than the forces arrayed against God; greater than the forces against us who seek His will in our lives. As citizens of the ultimate “Kingdom” we also are citizens of the world, an understanding that has grown exponentially among humans since I was a child. Notice how the Prince of Peace is forming the promised reign of peace on earth. The millions of Chinese Christians extending the law of love to melt denomination and transform relationships. The population of Canada that is 75% Christian and 24.5% deeply spiritual, facts generally ignored in the media. The Kabbalist Jews who foresee a new joining of the spiritually minded of all faiths who recognize the sovereignty of God.
Late one afternoon, I left my harvest kitchen to get a breath of fresh air on the back stoop. The tall grasses were back lit to a platinum glow by the descending sun. As I delighted in my surroundings, I heard “words in my head”: “You will see wonders in the heavens and at My feet.” And I replied to that Voice, “The earth is your footstool, Lord.” Miracles have flowed since then through very dark times in our family. They still do. God’s arm is not foreshortened. He has promised the kind of peace that can never be achieved through spying and weaponry and He will achieve it. And we will participate now and forever in that Divine promise. “Be of good cheer . . . . ”
I love this attitude. It’s how I feel, too. Funny how so many would characterize this kind of realistic thinking as “apologizing for your country.” But love is defined as not settling for anything but the highest and best good for the one who is loved. That takes vision, and courage, and hard work. Maybe in the next stage of your life you could go into government. 🙂
Ohhh… I’d love that! I have lots to say. Just give me a platform… 😉
Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts. I hope you have a great weekend!
Nicely said, Jamie.