Lord, I don’t love the USA.

american-flag-tattered
America the torn and tattered?

Today I realized that I don’t love the United States of America.  My childhood years growing up as an American expatriate in Asia laid a shaky foundation for patriotism, propelling me to consider becoming an ex-patriot by choice.  Living abroad has formed in me a disdain for our greed-driven foreign policy, reproachful treatment of visitors and recent immigrants to our Nation, and the ethnocentrism pervading our internal media and foreign relations.  Sometimes I have wished for the more benign reputation of a Caucasian-Canadian and have considered adding “eh’s” to my speech in order to be mistaken as such (no, I haven’t really, but it would seem funny to do so!).

Moving to the United States for college, I have been challenged to experience up close and personal, the racial conflicts woven into our fragile social fabric.  I have not wanted to own the power and privilege that comes with my white skin.  I have desired for internationals and recent immigrants to be encouraged at their attempts to attain English fluency rather than feeling the all-to prevalent scorn for thick accents or grammar mix-ups.  I have laughed at the 5 minutes given to “World News” by our national media outlets which spend 80% of this skimpy airtime covering scandals at Washington D.C.

Some close friends have even heard me say I would gladly renounce my citizenship and link myself to another nation state.  While spoken honestly, I regret saying this.  These words were voiced out of a deep sadness, and perhaps a woundedness I feel in relation to my Nation of origin.  Preoccupied with the grave failings of the US, I myself have failed to see and acknowledge her beauty.  Embarrassed by my inevitable ties to her, I have not wanted to celebrate her birthday.

July 4, 2014 I had my own kind of “independence day” as I flew with two large suitcases stuffed to the gills to make my new home in the Hawaiian Kingdom.  Living abroad again, and in a disputed territory, I have felt liberated, and also challenged once more by my own hardened heart toward the US.  Certainly, my anger is only reinforced by the grave injustice of the 1893 illegal seizure and occupation of the Hawaiian Kingdom.  Yet, I have experienced something profoundly disconcerting in the strong patriotism of the melting pot peoples that have migrated to call Hawai’i home and are strong patriots of the United States.

Even if she has done them wrong by stealing land and imposing systems that feel like a violation to inherent rights to self-governance, they see her beauty and love her.  Though their own rights to citizenship may have been threatened by immigration acts and internment camps in various eras of the last century, they have chosen to lift her up and see her greatness.  In spite of her questionable treatment of their own nations of origin, they have sacrificed life and loved ones to go to war and fight for her preservation.  This love and allegiance confuses and convicts me and today I hear an invitation to be healed and to learn to love again…

Lord, give me a holy and redeemed perspective of the United States government, her agencies, and her citizens.  I admit that I look upon her with hopelessness and futility and lack love and creative imagination to see her rise up and take her place.  I admit that I have felt hurt and angry because of her brutal history of domination of people groups–Native Americans, African Americans, waves of immigrants, foreign countries (through foreign wars)–and I have numbed my heart and refused to see her beauty amidst her brokenness.

How can I claim to love individuals, seeking to see beyond their brokenness in order to exalt their beauty but refuse to do the same for the nation of my birth?  There has been no love in me for my country, rather, I have wanted to disown her like one who seeks to deny the mother who birthed her because she is is ashamed of her reputation.

It is easier for a broken heart to choose rejection over reconciliation… it is a slippery slope from which one can so easily tumble downward.  In this, I have not acted courageously but cowardly.  My own hurt and despising of my nation may have poisoned other’s love for her and for this I am deeply sorry.20150928_120206-1

So today, I choose to repent.  I surrender my broken and hardened heart and ask that it be washed and remade in hope infused with love.  May I one day be able to genuinely celebrate her from the bottom of my heart. Amen.

I am grateful for the help of Author, Neurosurgen, and Presidential hopeful Ben Carson’s words of hope and healing.   I believe this read of “One Nation” (2014) will aid me on my journey as he testifies an unashamed love for Christ and country and commits to stand courageously for truth.  In his own observations of the effect of his Nation-shaking Speech at the 2013 National Prayer Breakfast, “One of the better outcomes was achieved, because I have encountered thousands of Americans who had given up on our country, and now are reinvigorated and ready to stand up for the freedoms that are guaranteed in our Constitution” (page 206).

Thank you, Dr. Ben Carson.  Your words of truth spoken in love and your bold leadership can heal a Nation, and your words have already begun to heal me.  Now I am one of those reinvigorated Americans. 

O beautiful for glory-tale
Of liberating strife,
When once or twice, for man’s avail,
Men lavished precious life!
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee
Till selfish gain no longer stain,
The banner of the free!

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee
Till nobler men keep once again
Thy whiter jubilee!

-Poem by by Katharine Lee Bates circa 1893, later revised and put to music in what is now known as “America the Beautiful”.

America the beautiful
America the beautiful
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11 thoughts on “Lord, I don’t love the USA.

  1. This is beautiful Rachel.

    I love my country because it’s been a place of hope for many immigrants through the years who have come here in hopes of a better future. I love my country because of the many who selflessly laid down their lives defending others simply because it was the right thing to do. It breaks my heart that she is so deeply flawed, but I believe that only by loving and accepting America, can we hope to better it.

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  2. Thank you for sharing your heart, dear Rachel. I feel torn inside, myself, conflicting realities co existing here, so you are not alone. My biggest pet peeves are the “God bless America” paraphernalia. I much prefer “America bless God”… It rankled me to sing patriotic songs at the Billy Graham crusade when I was in high school too.

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    1. Delice, thank you for voicing your empathy. I think this is one of many things we American TCKs wrestle with. I too struggle with songs of patriotism sung in some American churches… I don’t yet understand the intersection of church & state in this regard… should the church be generating political feelings in services? Should the church speak out against government policies that seem contradictory to our faith? Should the church love America more than other communities because God gives us a greater capacity to love than we have on our own? How to we celebrate a global God instead of seeking to domesticate him and make pleas for his blessing on our actions rather just or unjust? (questions for all who would like to consider them with me)

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  3. The US has always been the desired destination for those who wish to have the freedom to live, dream, worship and work as they wish. There has never been another country which has in its constitution the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The US has a Bill of Rights, which protects the individual from those with power. The notion of individual freedom is based in the Judeo-Christian belief that humans are created in God’s image and have inherent individual value, not just the value that government rulers capriciously decide to give to them (this is what progressives and leftists believe). In the US we also try to live by the rule of law. That is, all are accountable to the laws and none should be above the law. While we can certainly point to instances where the rule of law has not been adhered to, most of us can still see that it is enforced most of the time. In countries where the rule of law does not exist (even though laws exist), those with the best bribe or strongest political connections often get away with crimes. The US has also, historically, been the first to give aid to others in distress across the world. Despite “being the last one standing” after WWII, the US spent billions of dollars helping our adversaries get back on their feet. Most other countries would have claimed those countries as conquered and taken them as their own. A recent example is Russia with the Crimea.

    Here are a couple of videos that try to explain some of the reasons that the US has been exceptional when compared to other countries. https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=689&v=nuv0K8H8ILM

    I would also recommend D’Sousa’s “America: Imagine a World Without Her” which is on Netflix.

    That there is no country on earth without some corruption and problems should not be a surprise to Christians. We understand original sin and that each person’s way is right in their own eyes but the end leads to death. Those who do not understand this try to create utopia according to their belief system and the government becomes god. Sadly I see more corruption in our government, especially as it relates to the rule of law. When one forgets that God is ultimately in charge of our care, the government replaces god.

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  4. Kelly, thank you for helping me to see and celebrate the beauty and uniqueness of the US. I don’t know enough breadth of other national governments in order to make a comparison like this, so I appreciate your information and affirmation. I also appreciate your honesty about the ugly underbelly of our nation today. Let us pray that things will turn around and find our place of action and our voice! (Since you didn’t leave your last name… How do we know each other?)

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  5. Gratefully, our belief in God does not demand allegiance to any political entity or country. Wonderful as the US is, its glory depends on its allegiance and adherence to God and His standards. We must live His standards and encourage others to do the same. God, make me a follower of You and may I serve my country be serving You first.

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    1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Uncle Jay. You mention allegiance. Are you saying we don’t need to give our allegiance to the USA? So then should we speak out the “Pledge of Allegiance” or not? Or do we pledge allegiance with the condition that we will only submit ourselves to our nation in the ways that align with proper submission to God? How do we divide this? I ask because I wonder if you have more insight to offer those of us who are younger. 🙂 Thank you!

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      1. First, Christian is not specific to one country. Anybody from any country can follow God and be His light-even countries that don’t believe God (Muslim, communist). Everything we do, even for our country, must place God first and man later. “Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, ‘We ought to obey God rather than men.'”Acts 5:29

        Second, obviously, we must evaluate the U. S. by God’s standards. Where the country does not meet His standards, we can object, or even disobey.
        ***The marriage clerk down south chose to disobey the Supreme Court decision redefining “marriage” i.e. can be between any people any sex. She [and I agree with her] believe God has defined marriage as between one man and one woman. She chose to disobey the court ruling, BUT that resulted in her punishment. She could choose to disobey, but had to accept the results of her actions (unless she chose to leave the country). When we choose action against a government policy, we MUST accept its punishment.

        Finally, much that is good about the U. S. comes from either its Christian foundation or belief/actions of believers. I hope we can return to making God, His values and purposes PRIMARY in all we believe and do.

        Maybe we can Skype to make this clearer.

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  6. Wow Rachell, I did not realize you were going through this. Even I as a Chinese Hawaiian decent, went through this and still processing this as a first nation person and watched the terrible Vietnam War in the 60’s. I could not even stand when they played the national anthem. Today I realized that I had to repent and love my birth place and country to pray for others as I got healed up in this painful division. But The Lord was so good to allow me to still connect my wife’s nation of Japan to Hawaii and now America.
    It is an exciting time and challenging but so free and fearless. in Jesus.
    Ron

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    1. Uncle Ron, thank you for sharing that window into your own heart-journey. I didn’t realize you are also of Hawaiian descent! I guess I hear you speak of the Japanese side a lot. That is quite a lot to wrestle with. Thank you for being an example and going before us. I was definitely challenged and spurred on by the folks at Unified Church who embody such love for their nation–thank you for being a part of that!

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