I’ve been obsessively watching the World Cup (Allez les bleus!) and though I love the celebrations after goals and the drama of corner kicks, my favorite part of each game has come before either team even touches the ball. I love hearing all these different national anthems. You can see the joy in the crowd as fans sing their hearts and lungs out. And you can see the emotion and the pride these men feel representing their country.
It’s got me thinking about America and what it represents.
The news is dominated by hatred and turmoil. Much of our relatively short history is, as well. Is this what our country represents? Is this what defines America?
Today in church, we stood and sang the Star Spangled Banner. We do this every year on the Sunday before the Fourth of July and it’s the only time I remember that the anthem actually has 3 verses. I paid close attention to the words this time. It’s a tribute to the flag, the flag that represents the American ideal of freedom and bravery. That our country is free for all and it’s our bravery that makes it so. How do we reconcile that with our country’s many failures? Its black marks, the wrongs it has committed?
In the anthem, we aren’t looking at the flag on a clear, perfect day. We see the flag through the fog of cannon fire and gunpowder. It is the resilience of the flag that we proclaim. So I believe that the hatred and bigotry and intolerance that has occurred throughout history and, yes, our present is not what defines America. It’s been our ability to right wrongs, to reach for the ideal. We don’t always rise to the challenge. I mean, as the Founding Fathers declared their independence, there were slaves on their plantations. We fail. But the America I love and am grateful to be a part of, the America I wish to be proud of, is not defined by her failures. The failures are the fog. The current turmoil is the fog and we must see through it and keep our eye on the ideal. And do everything we can to get back there.
Happy Sunday, everybody.