As a Christian blogger, my focus is usually on issues concerning Christian living, theology, and Christian apologetics. On this Fourth of July, I feel it’s appropriate to shine a little light on our country and the attitude many Americans have toward it. Accordingly, this particular blog post is for those of my readers living in the United States.
The Decline of Patriotism
According to a recent poll, 44 percent of U.S. respondents say they are not proud to be Americans. That means barely a majority of Americans value their country and count themselves duly proud to be a part of it. In years past, this would have been scandalous! Today, very few people even batted an eye.
The biggest reason for our nation’s decline in patriotism is almost certainly our culture’s apathy and indifference to anything beyond ourselves. In the last 50 years, we’ve seen our work ethic compromised, our attention spans shrink, and our commitment to anything beyond ourselves more or less evaporate. We are obsessed with celebrity lifestyles, social trends, fashion, and entertainment – and, most of all, ourselves. We are shamelessly narcissistic. Even when we do get patriotic, it’s only enough to perhaps put an American flag decal on our car or maybe go to a Fourth of July fireworks show or (if we’re really motivated) throw on a Team USA soccer jersey during the World Cup! When it comes to volunteering for military service, gas rationing, or actually paying attention in US history class, only some of our fellow citizens can be counted on for that. As CNN pointed out in 2012, the decline in patriotic enthusiasm between the 1940s and today is dramatic and depressing. You can thank human nature for this — human nature fueled by television, the Internet, social media, and an increasingly shallow (yet incredibly comprehensive and deeply immersive) entertainment culture. Yet this isn’t the only problem.
The recent poll shows that liberals are much less likely to be patriotic than conservatives. This should come as no surprise to those who pay attention to societal trends. Liberals tend to be much more cynical about America’s history and tend to be much less committed to our nation’s heritage (especially the Founders). As self-styled “progressives,” they’re more interested in looking “forward”(as opposed to backward) unless it’s to pay tribute to a select few Americans they deem as exceptions to their prejudice against America’s past. To be sure, many liberals are very patriotic, particularly the classic liberals like my maternal grandfather who worked the West Virginia coal mines, fought in World War II, and voted proudly for FDR, LBJ, and JFK! In stark contrast to patriots like my grandfather, there’s another kind of liberal. The liberals least likely to love America are those who are products of the counter-cultural movement of the 1960s and 70s and/or who are fans of Howard Zinn, Bill Ayers, Noam Chomsky, Jeremiah Wright, and Che Guevara. These folks can be described best as “leftists” rather than liberals. As a pastor and Christian blogger, I try to limit how much I address political matters, but I find this lack of patriotism among such leftists to be deeply disturbing and totally inexcusable.
Patriotism in America
We were founded by men and women who were (collectively speaking – there are always exceptions, but collectively speaking) firmly dedicated to the birth and success of the United States. When our Founding Fathers approved the Declaration of Independence, they affixed their signatures to a document that publicly announced their willingness to sacrifice their “lives,” “fortunes,” and “sacred honor.” In other words, they put everything on the line – and some of them indeed paid that price, with a few losing their lives, others losing loved ones, several sacrificing their health, and many losing all their possessions. When you factor in the contributions and sacrifices made by the Founders’ families as well as that of our Continental Army soldiers and their families (as we should), what the founding generation did for our country should fill all of us with gratitude and respect.
Over the course of America’s history, this spirit of dedicated resolve permeated our families, our culture, and the workplace as we (in a very short period of time) skyrocketed to prominence, becoming the most prosperous and powerful nation in the world by our 200th birthday.
From the American Revolution through the Reagan years, a strong majority of Americans (notwithstanding the four-year Civil War and a brief time of “malaise” during Jimmy Carter’s weak presidency) were justly proud of their heritage, their system of government, and the amazing progress our nation had made in such a short period of time. And they were dedicated to working hard and making sacrifices to keep their nation great.
Unfortunately, with each decade since the Reagan years, the level of patriotism in America has decreased. The only exception was an all-too-brief surge in patriotism after the terrorist attacks of 9/11/01. It shouldn’t take an attack on our nation to inspire love of country and national unity. It takes the resolve of ordinary people like us to sustain our nation.
So if you aren’t willing to love America, then why don’t you relocate to another country and make room for someone who will appreciate the freedom, prosperity, and opportunity this great nation offers. In saying that, I’m not trying to be mean. I’m just being real. As George Washington said in his Farewell Address, your country ”has a right to concentrate your affections.” If you’re living in the United States and are not willing to give it your affections, then kindly make room for someone who will.
For the rest of us, let’s resolve to do our part in celebrating our great nation and fighting to keep it truly great.
**Don’t miss Dinesh D’Souza’s movie America**