“Patriotism is rooted in humility. Nationalism is rooted in arrogance.”
-Dan Rather & Elliot Kirschner: What Unites Us
“Who am I?” leads inevitably to the equally important question “Whose am I?” – For there is no selfhood outside of relationships….
-Douglas Steere as quoted by Richard Rohr
So I ponder the focus of Memorial Day given the military history of my family. I hear the voices of my father and father-in-law. They spoke of their service during World War II as a vocation. Their call to duty was Divinely blessed, a reflection of their nature given the international atmosphere. Their patriotism was deeply rooted. Their selfhood was deeply rooted. They were citizens of ‘one nation under God’.
Three of my brothers served. One was drafted during the Vietnam War era. One enlisted during this same time. The third enlisted during a time of relative peace from an American perspective. Who are they? Whose are they? I have my impressions as a brother and as a citizen. Suffice it to say, today my heart is filled with gratitude.
My daughter spent 6 ½ years serving in the Navy. My son is currently serving in the Army. Many of us know the heartfelt turmoil of seeing loved ones serving. From this perspective, the questions of Mr. Rather, Mr. Kirscher, and Fr. Rohr churn in spasms fear, pride, love, and other undefined emotions.
As a citizen of the United States, I find my patriotic passion at raging odds with a political environment that appears entrenched in nationalism, that is rooted more in belonging to a political organization than to ‘one nation under God’. Lives are played like pieces in a board game. Decisions appear to me to be based on personal, financial, or political gain.
So, who am I? Whose am I?
I used to squeeze prayer time in to my busy schedule. Now, I am finding myself working my schedule around my prayer time. This quiet, focused, necessary time is when the answers drift into my soul. It is so easy to miss them, misinterpret them, or just plain ignore them. Yet, the subtle, simple affirmations of our being, with one another, offer the encouragement needed to rest in the fleeting, but quiet presence of Divinity.
Wars are raging, around the globe, around the nation, and around the corner. We who choose to belong to each other offer the healing energy born of the only true Source. We have individual practices and worship sites. Yet, we also recognize our connection. We are able to offer the hope needed to nourish the roots of ‘one nation under God’. We are willing to transform our turmoil in to calm. We are willing to still the waters.
Beside the restful waters, our humility breeds patriotism.