No Flag at My House

You won’t see an American flag flying in front of my house … not even on July 4th … for the same reason I don’t pledge allegiance to the flag. It’s not because I hate my country or I don’t value or appreciate American ideals … In fact, it’s precisely because I DO. I am passionately supportive of freedom of speech, and freedom of religion … I believe in the right and responsibility to think, act, and speak critically of ourselves, our values and our ideals. I am a proponent of democracy and of the rights of the marginalized to speak and be heard. I believe in a system of governance which is of the people and for the people … I am an American, and I see the world through my USA lenses. I celebrate our gifts as a people and the sacrifice and contributions of so many for the benefit of living in a land in which I am free to speak and write of both our blessings and our faults.

My allegiance, though, is not to a government or a people … its to ideals … Ideals that I know as signs of the kingdom of God … Ideals which I believe are rights of ALL people, of all faiths and of no faith, of all races and nationalities and tribes. On this Fourth of July, I celebrate the liberation of a people and pray for the liberation of all people. I smile at photographs posted on Facebook and appreciate every nook and corner of our land from sea to shining sea. And I pray … i pray that we learn to live symbiotically with our natural environment … that we find ways to live sustainably, and that we will have glaciers and waterfalls, meadows, mountains, farmlands, rainbows and sunsets to photograph for generations to come. I love our people … and our diversity … I love that we have welcomed the stranger, the immigrant, the refugee … and I pray that as my ancestors arrived on this continent both before this nation was birthed and through this last century, we continue to be a blessing to all those with dreams beyond themselves.

On this “independence day” though … I also lament the non-kingdom-like values our nation holds. Our independence has grown into an avid individualism that puts personal freedoms above “the common good.” Our freedom has led us to a capitalistic “survival of the fittest” which is creating a huge gap in income and wealth and is marginalizing our majority … the middle class. Our morality seems to be based solely on economic gains and our consumerism is a cancer that will devour us, if we don’t take intentional steps to fight it. Our laws and policies are biased by our polarities and political platforms … This will be our demise if we cannot find a way to work together for the common good.

July 4th, though, is a day on which we hold high our dreams … Not just our American Dream, but our human dream of prosperity which reaches beyond the borders of the USA and to every tribe and people of all continents. A dream of human fulfillment … More than the pursuit of happiness, a realization of purpose, of work, of contribution, of health, of education, of community, of diversity and hope …

You won’t see a flag flying in front of my house today … because I am afraid of an empty nationalism that is blind to our imperfections. Because I won’t sing “God Bless America” as if God’s blessing shouldn’t also be with the Egyptians and Syrians and Afghans and Russians and Brazilians and Iraqis and Kenyans and Chinese. I love my people, I love all people. On this day and all days …