Happy birthday. I hope you have a good one. Celebrate, enjoy the fireworks and parades. Soak up the love.
A lot of people love you, I think you know that. And so do I.
Yes, I love you. It’s impossible not to love the place where I was born, where I was raised and learned about life, about baseball and rock ‘n roll. I learned the fundamentals of my faith in your land. I started my own family with you.
No, seriously, I do love you! I know that may surprise you. I don’t show my emotions openly. I don’t like most displays of patriotism, because I consider them gratuitous. To whom do I have to prove my patriotism? I live here, I pay taxes, and I vote. There – I’m a patriot.
I don’t really think I have to wear a flag pin to be an American, just like I don’t have to have a fish sign on my car to be a Christian. And I don’t understand why we have to sing our praise to you twice in the middle of every baseball game. It is just a game, after all.
Yet, I’ll state it again – I love you.
And because I love you, I think I have the obligation to admonish you. I’ve kept up a lovers’ quarrel with you for years now, but it’s becoming worse.
You have a problem, America. This is an intervention. I’m speaking up because I want the best for you, and for the people whom you nurture and inspire, and for the people whom you ignore, condemn, and torture.
You are not special.
There, I’ve said it.
You are not special. You think you are, but you are not. You have told us for years that you are the pinnacle of democracy, freedom, and liberty in the world. You have spun myths and legends to perpetuate the idea that you are a “city set on a hill” by God Himself, a “new Israel” chosen above all other nations. You keep telling us that the Founding Fathers were somehow divinely inspired in writing the country’s foundational documents.
We know this isn’t true, America. We know that you are deceiving yourself – and us – with these tales.
This deceit is deadly, because it convinces you that you are above international law, beyond suspicion, and under God’s special protection. These untruths serve to justify every war, every injustice, every ugly episode.
But I see how you treat other nations. I hear the arrogance in your voice. You get away with bullying others because you have immense military and economic power. You run roughshod over others because you can.
I will confess that I’ve not been an entirely faithful lover, America. I have lived in other places for extended periods of time. What I learned in those places is not that I love you less, but that other places are just as worthy of love and adoration.
Those other places need your love, too. They are worthy of appreciation, of respect and dignity. Why don’t you give it to them?
You are but one nation on an enormous planet which requires cooperation, mutual respect, and diversity in order for prosperity and peace to flourish. You are not more special than Mozambique or Mauritania, Iran or Iceland, Great Britain or Vietnam.
They deserve a place where their children can play and learn to read, where their mothers and fathers can raise children and earn a living wage, where music and art and technology create a living interplay of culture and ideas. They deserve fresh air, clean water, and fertile soil.
Ah, but I know why you don’t love the others. You fear them. You are afraid of different colors, foreign languages, strange religions. You distrust the others. And so you insist on keeping them at arm’s length.
And I do mean “arm.” Military arms. Weapons. Guns and bombs and tanks and jets and drones. You obviously don’t trust anyone else unless you’re carrying the biggest stick imaginable. And while you’re carrying that stick, everyone else looks like a terrorist.
Now I’m beginning to wonder if I can trust you. It’s that lack of trust that will kill a relationship, America. I hope it doesn’t kill ours.
Because I’m holding on the best I can. Your purple mountains and golden fields of wheat are beautiful, yes, and your ancient words of promise and freedom are noble. But you’ve become something unrecognizable.
Please remember, America: I don’t love you because I think you’re special, or because you are better than all the other nations, or because you are somehow more authentically “Christian,” or because you have a higher standard of living.
I love you because you’re my mother and father, and everything I am and have basically comes from you. You are in my blood.
You can do better than this. You can be better. And I will be at your side.