It’s not very cool to be energetic and optimistic and to see the good in everything. So sometimes our criticism is a matter of fashion and aesthetic and not actual discernment. What better place to start our criticism than the U.S.? Because of my cynicism and mistrust, I think I might be tagged as anti-U.S., which isn’t really true.
All of the goodness in the world comes from God. Wherever I see goodness, I want to praise God and praise the people, even praise the country that produced it. That includes the U.S.
My favorite thing about the U.S. is its vastness. We live in a giant country—and the parts that we do conserve are still God’s beautiful creation and I see God in them all of the time.
The National Parks Service, and the Organic Act of 1916, is the legislation that’s behind all of the U.S.’s national parks. There was enough sense in our government to preserve these national treasures so that many can go and experience their beauty and experience God. Say what you will, but they are gorgeous.
Here’s another one. How much we care about “home.” The first Europeans who came here, were finding a home in the wilderness, and before they knew what was happening, most of the natives were generous enough to give them one. The government has subsidized home-buying with tax breaks for 90 years or so. The government has promoted families as the basic building block of community, too. This is also a great thing. Despite some limits, there has been the wisdom to see that families are the basic community that makes for the larger community.
In many of our neighborhoods, even the poorest ones, many people have the luxury of buying a home and it’s not because they’ve saved all of their life. That is a good thing because it builds families and limits how negative the effects of gentrification are.
The other good thing about the United States is the sheer optimism of it. I love how Americans often see the positive value of being stinking rich and being rather imperialistic. Almost no other nation in the world would have a person running for office that declares his nation as the hope of the world. I like the positivity and the energy of declaring: “Who says I can’t do that?” I think God likes that kind of audacity. I think God likes that kind of confidence too. God is obviously saying, “Who says I can’t redeem it all?”
Look at the examples of individuals saying that and changing the U.S. for the better and the world for the better. Harriet Tubman, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X are good examples. I resist the self-reliance and individualism of transcendentalists like Emerson, Thoreau, Whitman, and Emily Dickinson. But I do appreciate their effort to resist the evils of the world and their saying, “I can do it”. There are many great Americans that have amazed us and influenced us in positive ways. They are also part of the U.S. and offer some more redemptive qualities to it. And so do you, lastly—though the U.S. isn’t nearly as inclusive as the Body of Christ, you’re part of the U.S., at least for now to some extent, and I think you make it worth loving and redeeming, and I, for one, see God in you.
Life should be about seeing all the good around us instead of seeing all of the lack—of seeing the whole cloth of Jesus around us, instead of just pointing out how crappy everything is. I hope our relationships with the society, in general, can be something like that. There is a time for prophecy and declarations against all of the crap in society, but too much of that will make us all cynical, and sooner or later we’ll hate ourselves too. It’s much better to love.
Who says you shouldn’t celebrate all the good things God is doing in the United States? There is some major issues with the country and I think we can be prophets in that regard, but I can still see good and hope for better. You’re part of that.
Thanks to Rod for inspiring this post; a longer form of it appeared on my blog at circleofhope.net/jonnyrashid.