Land of the Free, Home of the Brave

“In the truest sense, freedom cannot be bestowed; it must be achieved.” -FDR

Okay, so this might be a controversial post, but I have to say it because it’s bugging me so badly.

I really did not look forward going to church today because it was Fast and Testimony meeting falling on the 4th of July. I knew that there were going to be a lot of American nationalism propaganda disguised as testimonies. I think some members of the church forget that patriotism isn’t a Gospel principle. There are more members outside of the country than inside and being so USA-centric does no justice to our global church.
Another thing that bothered me is that somehow the 4th of July turned into a “let’s honor our troops” day (there is Veterans Day for a reason). I have no problem thanking veterans for their service to our country. But they are not the only ones who serve our country. What about the ordinary citizens who work in their communities every day to try to build a better life for themselves and their neighbors? And this country was built on the backs of ordinary citizens/immigrants. The 4th of July isn’t about celebrating the military, but about celebrating the signing of the Declaration of Independence. And I’m tired of people wishing America Happy Birthday. The United States of America wasn’t a nation until several years after July 4, 1776.
Yet another thing is that this country was founded while simultaneously eliminating an entire race of people. Have we forgotten the Native Americans? Do you think they really celebrate the 4th of July? Talk about illegal immigration. The arrogant, white-Euro centric pilgrims invaded a country that was already peopled. I feel really uncomfortable celebrating the birth of nation that brought about the genocide of another.
I’m tired of people talking about us “enjoying our freedoms” like we are the only free nation in the world. Yes, I realize there are places like North Korea which is the antithesis of what America stands for. But we must not forget there are plenty of “free” countries in the Western world. I can think of other countries which are “freer.” Hello there Netherlands.
I’m also tired of people saying that the troops are protecting our freedoms. No they’re not, they are protecting our interests. Do we even really know why they’re still in Afghanistan and Iraq. Neither one of those countries militarys attacked us and tried to take away our way of life. So how was our freedom threatened? A group of insane religious zealouts flew some planes into buildings and terrorized us and instead of dealing with that, we dropped bombs on innocent people. A military member bore their testimony today about forgiving their enemies. And I thought I really hope that the Afghani people can forgive us for killing their innocent citizens. Do I think the Taliban was evil and should have been taken out? Absolutely. The horrible injustices to women was enough to make my blood boil. But that was done 9 year ago. Why are we still there? And why do we think that we have the right to force our way of life on other cultures?
To clarify I want to say that I am thankful that my ancestors got on boats and made the long trek to America. Because I do believe that America is not just a country, but an idea. They came to live a better life. I’m glad I live in this country. Especially as a woman I don’t take for granted the privileges I have that many other women around the world don’t. Whenever I see the Statue of Liberty in the New York harbor I think of my ancestors who saw her too as a beacon of hope. I have the life that I have because those who came before me sacrificed. That’s what I want to honor today.

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