I've been thinking a little and I believe I've landed on where patriotism went wrong.
Now, granted, there are many who would insist patriotism didn't go wrong and that all the blind flag waving is fine, but I also know a host of others who are so tired of it that they've almost taken an anti-American stance, spouting such profundities as "God isn't an American, you know." (Which, by the way, I know is true, but given the grace He's poured out on this country, it's still hard to believe He's not. Deep down, I mean.)
Nevertheless, with the war on terror not going exactly was planned (and we're all supportive of the planned wars, right?), there is a fair amount of internet drivel about people distancing themselves from their nationality. The rich and famous of Hollywood even make references to moving to Canada, although most of them renege when they take a gander at the Weather Channel.
I'll admit, I've winced through more than one sermon turned political rally and even a few political rallies turned sermons (not sure which is the worse offense). Without a doubt, our beliefs should influence our politics. In fact, if they don't, I think you're probably a cadavar. Unfortunately, we've had nearly as much of the opposite: our politics influencing our beliefs.
If I admit that I really love this country, will the pointed headed, intellectual emerging types among us promise not to tease me? I know it's cool to appear distance and detached from such arcane notions as patriotism, but I just can't help it. When you look at our heretige, our history, the phenomenal balance of natural resources and mix of people - it's hard not to feel like God has set us up for success. Where patriotism gets out of whack is in it's embracing only the best about the United States without being willing to address the worst.
Our government essentially conducted a mission of genocide against Native Americans. As early as the late 1700's, soldiers were supplied Native Americans with blankets infected by deseases for which they were known to have no resistance to. One soldier wrote: "Out of our regard to them we gave them two blankets and an handkerchief out of the Small Pox Hospital. I hope it will have the desired effect."
With the idea that it would die out eventually, the framers of the Constitution failed to address the issue of slavery - effectively ducking a hot political issue that would fester for seventy years before erupting in civil war and costing 200,000 lives in battle and another 400,000 to desease.
Even today, we twist laws and definitions to allow us to justify killing children in the birth canal - children who, had they traveled another four or five inches, would have been provided the protection against attack that is extended to all citizens.
Blind patriotism fails to deal with these things...it turns a blind eye, it offers a deaf ear. It says "I love my country" but fails to own it's country's sin.
All that to say this: a new patriotism must rise up. One that celebrates the best of America while being willing to deal with the worst. It is not enough to revel in the past and celebrate the potential of the future without taking responsibility for the failure of our nation's past and present.
Every morning, along with our interns, we pray a prayer that begins "Jesus, we plead your blood over our sins and the sins of our nation...." The New Patriotism must begin with repentance.