Saturday, July 05, 2008

Proud to be an American?

It's the day after the high holy American Civil Religion holiday. I'm sitting here pondering the whole concept of the 4th and I'm finding that my emotions and thoughts are fairly mixed. Yes, I am thankful for many things about this country. At the same time, I have such disgust. That's a difficult thing for an ENFP.

We live in a country that banters loudly "God bless America" yet we seem to forget that God blesses the other nations of the world too. Sometimes, I get the sense that people think that the US is the New Israel - the new Promised Land - and that we take such pride in that. Yet, paradoxically, we fail to take responsibility and to live as co-creators. We have starving people up the ying-yang, many without homes, people who have to claim bankruptcy when they face medical crises, and illegal immigrants that are the new outcasts in the eyes and minds of so many Pharisiacal citizens. We are a country that worships money, getting ahead, and bad theology. There are some things about this country that really irk and sadden me. It's hard to worship or celebrate a place where politics has sunk to the GW levels it has and where we fail to truly strive to live in a just, loving society.

Yesterday morning, I watched an MSNBC special about WalMart - otherwise known in our home as the Evil Empire. While even I have to admit (grudgingly) that there are some redeeming qualities about the mega-MNC, their belief system - as fanatical as a fundamentalist on a rampage - causes my heart to sink. Money and Sam Walton are their gods - everything is focused around these icons. Small, locally owned businesses are decimated and employees are paid substandard and non-living wages. The half who have access to insurance can barely afford their portion of the health care premiums - unless you are the CEO or CFO who make $14 million/year. The suppliers are encouraged to outsource...yeah, there's a pro-American ideal. Many products are produced in China so we can fill our houses with cheap crap that we really don't need. There are 5,000 lawsuits pending against Walmart at any given time. It was said that Walmart is simply the touchstone for the ills and challenges of the USA. Perhaps that is true. But what stunned me was the nonchalance with which this was said - why not set an example and change those challenges? Why not lead the way in helping to solve the ills? No, instead, there was a ho-hum "oh well" attitude that made me ill. Another American touchstone: It Must Be Someone Else's Fault, Not My Responsibility. Argh.

Yet, I must say that I am thankful for the freedom I have to write this. I doubt anyone will knock my door down and force me to remove the post. I doubt I'll be arrested for standing against the tides of ACR. Freedom of Speech is a precious thing that we probably all take for granted.