I grew up in Bothell, but my wife and I moved north some time ago. We went to Mass on July 2 and were introduced to our new priest, a man from Vietnam. He closed the service by having us all sing “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” in honor of Independence Day and telling us how much he loves this country.
How quickly some of us who have lived here all our lives become cynical of our country, history, culture, etc. We become enamoured with political infighting, the politics of guilt and the court of public opinion to the point that it sometimes seems that some of us really don’t love this country. Well, I believe a society is a lot like an individual — because societies consist of individuals. None of us is perfect. Each of us has our flaws, as well as our regrets from the past. We can equally see that those around us have their own flaws and things from the past they might not be proud of. And our heroes, the people we look to for inspiration and with pride? Dig a little deeper and you will likely find they had their own demons.
Yet if we were to go to a psychiatrist and tell them that we could only focus on our negative in our own lives, would they tell us we are healthy? If we demanded perfection in others, would we not eventually wind up alone and without sources of love and inspiration, to say nothing of being hypocrites? If a society consists of individuals, then shouldn’t what is true for individuals be true for society?
That is not to say we should endorse blind jingoism. We shouldn’t whitewash the past any more than we should accept the present without question. But neither is it healthy only to focus on the bad at the expense of the good. We should acknowledge the bad for what it is, learn from it and in the case of that which we cannot change, move on. In the case of things which we can change, by all means we should strive to do so; but out of love for what our country can be — and can be because we have faith that its people are good enough to change, not out of hate for how things are or with a cynicism toward our fellow man that will ensure failure.
Sometimes we take for granted the good things that we have and it is easier to focus on the bad. But it is humbling to realize that there are people who would take our place in a second if they could. We all may have our differences, our qualms, our conflicting beliefs in what our country should be, but we should never forget how lucky we are to be here, how much good we have done and how much good we can still do if we refuse to let the bad bog us down.
God bless America, and all of us.