However, there is a growing notion, that if your past and sadly, even present experiences within America are the opposite of grand... If you, with full knowledge of that truth, begin to express your discontent with YOUR American experience; there is a growing number of people that would then label you as being un-American.
Warning: This one is a bit long; however, I pray you’ll stay with me. I assure you that it will make sense after a while.
So, as we get to know each other better, you will continue to know more things about me. For example, I am an immovable and very fortified fan of the Dallas Cowboys. As of this writing we hold a record of 11 – 1 and I’m pumped about #DemBoyz.
Now, I’ll be honest, as faithful of a fan as I am, I can admit that these days are better than some of the days we had before. Namely our 2015-2016 season.
Cowboy fans remember. All things went crashing down because of injuries. Romo injured his back, Dez injured his foot, and the team’s performance as a whole was severely impacted. Of all the injuries, none could compare to the challenges we felt from the quarterback position. With Romo out, Weeden reminded us that if the quarterback is off, the team will be as well.
So, if you asked me about the Cowboys in 2015, I would have told you, that they weren’t doing well at all. I would have said that they desperately needed a new and improved, back-up quarterback; and if they don't focus on getting that corrected in the off-season, we’re going to have some problems (thus DAK!)
I was frustrated with my team, disappointed in my team, and even angry (as all of us crazy fans can be) with my team. Why? Because their performance was poor. However, I still remained a Cowboy fan. I maintain all memorabilia. I DVR’d the games. I maintained the app. I followed the stats. I was undoubtedly disappointed in the team; however, I still remained committed to the team.
Is that confusing?
Absolutely not. Fact is, you don’t even have to be a Cowboys fan to get this. Every one of us understands this philosophy very well. Don't believe me? Then let’s test a theory…
Hate it or love it, there are a total of 32 teams in the NFL, and every year like clockwork ONLY 1 TEAM wins the Super Bowl. Therefore, the remaining 31 of us, after anger, therapy, time, and meditation, we all (some more believable than others) say these words:
“Don’t worry. We’re taking it next season!”
Why? Because we’re fans; some delusional yes, but we’re all still fans.
All 31 of us walked away with some measure of disappointment. 1 team in fact suffered the worst. In that, they walked away with nothing after coming within 4 Super Bowl quarters of the promise land. Sure you feel angry, sure you’re disappointed, denying that would be naïve and dishonest. However, through it all, you’re still a fan. In the midst of your disappointment, you’re still connected to your team, for better and obviously, for worse.
So here’s the question: why does this very simplistic truth, apply to everything, EXCEPT patriotism?
It applies to movies, employment, congregations, it even applies to family. You know there are times when your family has your blood boiling. However, you still love your family. Yes, you’re disappointed with their behavior towards you, or in general. You can’t deny that; after all, that would (as stated before) be naïve and dishonest. However, when hit with a tragedy, I’ve seen many hurt families come together because, past the pain, the family is still bound in love.
So here’s the application and point.
I don’t claim to speak for all of America, as no one other than God can. However, I’m confident that I speak for a great portion, when I say, I am an American and I’m committed to my home. Excluding only the Native Americans, we are all descendants of or actual immigrants, who all have a varying set of very unique stories that all end within these United States.
Some of us have ancestral or current journeys that started in the pursuit of freedom, some the pursuit of a dream, and some are here by means of kidnap and hostile acts. Upon arrival, some found the American Dream, other’s the nightmare. However, through all the work, protest, legislation, prejudice, and persecution, many who’s lineage started with the worst of American origin, are now able to live in at least better days than those who came before; all thanks to those who came before.
So, naturally if you asked an assortment of citizens, young and old, to rate their American experience, we shouldn’t be shocked at the differences of the answers we receive. I imagine that some would give America a 10. Others a 5. And some would rate it close to zero. The remaining would certainly cover all points in between at an uncertain degree to exactly what.
Why? Well, that’s simple, it’s because there has been NOTHING and there will never be ANYTHING that we all experience the same. The movie you thought was great, I might say was okay. The dish you thought was amazing, I might decline seconds. This is because we can only speak honestly from the vantage point of our experience, and that is what makes us unique.
However, IF I stated that I didn’t like the film, no one would say that I hate movies. If I didn’t care for the dish, no one would say that I hate food.
However, there is a growing notion, that if your past and sadly, even present experiences within America are the opposite of grand. If your story is littered with injustice, inequality, and social oppression. If you, with full knowledge of that truth, begin to express your discontent with YOUR American experience, well there is a growing number of people that would then label you as being un-American. You’re now a despiser of the flag, an insulter of its military, a betrayer of your nation, and even encouraged to leave.
Amazingly, we get it with football, movies, food, jobs, and even family. Nothing is perfect, and the first step towards addressing an issue is to admit, UNEQUIVOCALLY that we do indeed have an issue. And (might I add) your issue is indeed with the issue (no more and no less), and if the issue is addressed then (with time) true harmony ensues. Yes, all of this wonderful rational, all of this thought and clarity amazingly goes out the window, when you express your displeasure with your American experience.
So, what do we do?
Well, I think it’s time to redefine patriotism. I think we must view it with the honesty and integrity, that we do with all things. Theologically I know that there can be no lies in love. The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 13:6 that “Love does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.”(ESV) So, why is my love for the nation only deemed true if I honor only part of the story? Why is my allegiance called under question, when my mind professes what my history and senses comprehend?
America is my home, and I’m her citizen. However, there are MANY issues that she must undoubtedly repair. And, if she remains broken, love (which is the true heart of patriotism) won’t allow for me to honestly call her perfect, complete, healthy, or even whole.
I do indeed note her problem; however, I’m also patriotically committed to being on the side of her solution.
Kevin D. Jones, Sr.
Kevin D. Jones, Sr.