America – Love It, Don’t Leave It

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.                   John 15:13

Many years ago- 1968 in fact- there was a popular bumper sticker that read “America, Love It or Leave It!” This was at the height of the increasingly unpopular Vietnam War. Back in those days, President Johnson liked to call it a “conflict”, since war had never been declared.

The country was highly divided on that and many other issues. In fact, such divisions also exist today, of course. I was struck by that 1968 concept that one would possibly need to make a choice of leaving their country just because they disagreed with flawed policies.

Our country has been plagued with flawed policies ever since its inception. Our laws and attitudes about slavery, our treatment of Native Americans, our arbitrary and racist immigration laws (just check out the Chinese Exclusion Act), 19th century child labor standards- the list goes on and on- attest to our failures in so many areas.

But the point of this blog is not to simply point out America’s flaws on this Memorial Day weekend. In fact, the point is that many died to protect my right to say those very things. When we love something, we get honest, and we speak the truth about it to make it better. Indeed, I love my country, flawed as it is. I am also grateful that I can express that love in a truthful way so that change can happen.

If I were to write this in Vladimir Putin’s Russia, I could expect a call from the local thugs he employs to shut me down- or worse. However, if we love America, we should rally to her defense by being completely honest. We speak the truth in love. We are allowed to do that here. Praise God!

Our America needs help. We are becoming a self-absorbed, entitled culture. We have many who fail to act responsibly or to take personal responsibility when things do not work out their way. Their response is to lash out at perceived threats to their worldview. They lash out in murderous ways, at times, against the most innocent among us. Wouldn’t it be refreshing and healthy if each of us looked to ourselves to see our own faults first, then took action to improve our own thoughts and attitudes before blaming others for our problems?  

I worry about our “blame culture” which looks for the cause of our own problems outside of ourselves. Collectively, we can see that America is far from perfect. But this weekend, we celebrate the best our country has to offer- those who gave their lives for our freedom, so that we can look at our country in all its glory and its pain.

Prayer: Thank you Lord for the sacrifice of so many who gave their lives for our freedom, Amen

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