In recent years, every year on the 4th of July, I watch A Capitol Fourth from the sofa in my living room. It is the annual public, televised celebration of Independence Day held in Washington, D.C.. I enjoy the heartfelt love of country, the fireworks, and the music. What I do not enjoy is the seemingly requisite singing of God Bless America.
Don’t get me wrong – musically, it’s a beautiful song. I just can’t get behind the sentiment.
This is a phrase that has become ubiquitous on the lips of politicians, too. When they use it, it guarantees them ovation-level applause. When it is absent, a predictable backlash ensues. It is a hollow ritual that is rarely, if ever, given much thought. And don’t even get me started about the singing of it at baseball games… “God Bless America”. Why?
When we kneel at the altar of nationalism, we fall victim to the mindset of supremacy. Our nation, above all others, divinely decreed. We lose sight of the immeasurable merits of pluralism and diversity; values foundational to our nation’s growth and continued flourishing. We dismiss the worthiness of all nations and all peoples to be “blessed”.
And this is what we ask of a supreme deity?
If there is a god, it seems to me shallow, short-sighted, and narcissistic to ask Him to bless our country alone. I expect him to bless the world! I want Her to be the kind of deity that would scoff at the notion that only some people are worthy of blessing, and be disappointed in those who would request or assume that. What kind of god would grant a request that essentially undermines the common bond of our world community?
God bless humanity, god bless kindness, god bless love. But God Bless America?
I don’t think so. God Bless Us All.