We are Americans and when we left the U.S. for Africa just over 5 years ago I only felt that in a vague, untested way. As a history major and somewhat of a conspiracy theorist I choose to look at America in sobering and sometimes critical way. Asking these questions are in fact what I believe makes me truly American. I can and I do. We have many dualities as a nation, just as I do as a person. I know we are a nation who has welcomed and made a place for many seeking freedom and a better life and defended individual freedoms and that same nation has enslaved thousands and waged unjust war. We are an imperfect union and it is our duty to thoughtfully and respectfully dialogue about our future and past. We are flawed as a nation because we are all flawed as people. We have selfishness and sin burrowed deep in places unseen to outsiders and thus all our attempts to form a perfect union will fail. But the experiment is worthy to continue. And I am also grateful to the men and women who have laid down their lives defending the rights we hold dear here in America. And having seen other parts of this world I do not take those right for granted. All of this is a part of my being American. It is impossible to just be from a place, it becomes a part of you in all sorts of huge and small ways that I did not realize.
Living outside America surrounded by the different makes you long for the predictable sameness we left behind. I missed people who understood that the 4th of July means grilling, fireworks, and parades and that Thanksgiving is synonymous with turkey. I had taken a lot of culture for granted. And I was much more dismissive of being American until I was an American surrounded by a foreign culture. In the same breath I would mock our big box retailers and super sized everything and long for the familiar and easily accessible Target run while sipping on a custom ordered mocha. I embrace this. My heart has been opened to the vast world that lies beyond the borders of rest stops, interstates, and Starbucks. But I know in deep ways and surface ways that America is a great country. One I am thankful to have been born in. One that affords me as a woman vast opportunities to chose paths in my life. I appreciate the red, white, and blue while simultaneously questioning her place in the world.
And I will always long for a place that is better. One where there is no pain or suffering and I am joined by people from every tribe and tongue all singing praises to the Lamb. That will truly be Independence Day.
Reminds me of this quote from Mere Christianity by C.S.Lewis and since he said it better:
The girls got blinged out for the little parade in my parent’s lake side neighborhood in Lake Geneva yesterday.
J was forced to participate in the “parade” as travelling on any moving object results in fits of puking and crying for my prego self.
First year doing the sparkler gig on her own AND staying up to watch the fireworks from the boat
love my lil’ sister