Long, long ago I loved American politics. I loved the process. I found the people interesting and sometimes invigorating. I suppose it goes along with being a history nerd. Politics and history are so closely intertwined–especially in America.
In the last 10 years or so I’ve lost most of that political love. I still love history–especially American colonial stuff, but contemporary politics? Not so much. I’m sure part of the change results from not teaching US History and government any more. Another part may be contributed to age and experience. I’ve seen politics–especially outside the USA–cause more harm than good. Within the USA, I’ve just seen a lot of divisiveness, lack of civility, and waste.
Even with my rather recent dislike of American politics, I was still drawn to watch President Obama’s second inauguration. It sets the tone. It reveals part of the heart of the nation. It’s history after all. I am thankful ABC News streamed it so I could watch and listen to it in my office as I tried to make sense of my desk and answer a few emails during the music.
I think Lamar Alexander’s opening remarks were good ones. He quoted Alex Haley, the author of Roots, saying, “Find the good and praise it.” How wise! I thought as a Republican, this was a good thought to instill in the minds of my fellow Americans as we begin the President’s second term. Whatever your politics, whatever your beliefs about the President, this is good advice. I would add to Haley’s words, though. “Find the good and praise it . . . and pray for the rest of it.”
There’s too much criticism and hate spewed towards the President, towards the Congress, towards the Supreme Court. They are not infallible. They are not God. They are the government. As Christ followers we have an obligation to pray for them. When I read the vitriol directed towards them from those who claim to follow Jesus, I often wonder how much prayer surrounded those criticisms. I know I’m guilty of not praying enough; this isn’t me merely pointing a finger.
Dave Pollock, TCK guru extraordinaire, used to urge TCKs towards patriotism. I know most TCKs bristle when they hear that. For many patriotism and nationalism have become interchangeable terms.
Nationalism says, “My country is right no matter what.” This is the kind of thinking that leads us to might makes right. It’s easy thinking when “your” country is a super power.
We’ve all seen the downside of nationalism. Carried to an extreme it leads us to try to squash everyone who dares disagree with what the nationalistic nation says and does. It’s not a pretty sight, nor is it a comfortable experience.
Patriotism, on the other hand, doesn’t do this. Patriotism says, “I want my country to be right and to do right. I know it fails, but that’s what I want.” Patriotism owns up to mistakes. Patriotism celebrates good when it finds it. Patriotism is good.
This morning I was convicted that I need to be more vocal to others about what my nation does well. I also need to be more vocal to God about how my nation needs to improve.
What are your thoughts on the inauguration?
“Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to many people.”