America the great

Disclosure: I have no interest in a debate (there’s enough of that going on) especially in any forum online or through social media. This is merely an attempt to express my thoughts, feelings, and concerns. I’m writing to exercise my freedom of speech. 

As many are expressing, I’m deeply troubled about the upcoming presidential election.  I’m not a historian, political analyst, or sociologist (although that is probably one of the lenses I’m coming at this from since I graduated with a Sociology major). I am a Christian, wife, missionary, teacher, traveler, writer, American. I’m coming at this through these lenses too.

I’m not entirely sure who I’ll vote for when it comes down to it; but I do know I will vote; and I do know who I will not be voting for.

What has me feeling uncomfortable, frightened, and flabbergasted, is this whole notion of ‘Making America great again.’ What does this mean exactly? You mean the great America that chased Native Americans from their own land? You mean the great America whose Puritans executed women by burning them at the stake? You mean the great America that advocated for slavery, discrimination, and segregation? You mean the great America that idolizes sports figures and lusts over celebrities? You mean the great America who endorses those who claim they want to ‘protect our borders’ and ‘keep em’ out’ at all costs? You mean the great America that wants freedom- but only if that freedom aligns with the values of one particular party or class? You mean the great America that wants to bring God back, so we can affix the label of “Christian Nation” to ourselves once again, only to banish or deport anyone who doesn’t ascribe to that label?

This. This is what I fear.  America becoming ‘great’ again. Actually, I think America as a ‘great nation’ is a faint notion.  Maybe we had our day back in the early 20th century, when we allied ourselves with nations around the globe to stop the spread of fascism. Or maybe it was when we gave women the vote. Or maybe it was in the dawn of the space age. Regardless of when it was, or if it was, perhaps now, America is on its way out. History shows us that while nations rise, they also fall.  During the Cold War, America was seen as one of two superpowers, the other being the Soviet Union.  Are we at all disillusioned in believing America is ‘the Superpower.‘ Or worse, that it should be? With Superpower mentality, authoritarian rule is not far behind (Russia, China anybody?) History reminds us that these empires began with what were once great Superpowers in their day:

The Persian empire (550-330 BC), the Byzantine empire (330-1453) the Holy Roman Empire (962-1806), the Ottoman Empire (1299-1922), the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), the British Empire (1603-1997), the Third Reich (1933-1945).

Maybe this sounds very unpatriotic, but I’ve traveled enough, lived enough places, and met enough people to realize I’m not just a U.S. citizen; I’m a global citizen.  Jesus didn’t lend himself to any one particular nation.  God doesn’t just care about what happens to Americans. He cares about what happens to South Africans, Syrians, Nigerians, Afghans, Mexicans, Cubans, Burmese, Russians, and so on. As a missionary, the plight of the world’s citizens concern me, not just my country’s.  As a missionary and a Christian, one of my greatest concern these days is religious freedom. Not just for myself, but for others as well.

Through a sociological lens, I am seeing the upcoming election in a much broader scope. In my studies, I remember learning about other times when fear rhetoric was used to compel people to rally behind something or someone they believed would offer protection.  But there’s a cost for this protection. The truth is, when you succumb to fear, or resign yourself to support a person, a cause, or an ideology as a result of fear, it always backfires.

These quotes sum up my thoughts well:

“One of the saddest chapters in the history of Christianity is how the courageous church of the martyrs became — with the help of the state — a fearful and persecuting church. Under Charlemagne, the punishment for refusing to be baptized into the Catholic faith was death. Conversion at the point of the sword became a cultural norm”

“A government that can shut down a mosque can shut down a church. A president who insults entire categories of human beings with impunity will not hesitate to attack any religious community that dares to criticize him.”

-quotes from Joseph Loconte, assoc. professor of history and contributor to the Washington Post.

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