I am just utterly unable to understand people who want to…in the name of “patriotism”… whitewash—or totally hide from their own eyes and the eyes of others—the long history of periodic widespread brutality and injustice…and indifference…inflicted on the weak by those in position of power and influence in our country. Or even by large groups of common citizens.
Indeed, I’ve been accused of being “unpatriotic” or “unAmerican” because I share such historical information on my blogs and websites. This dumbfounds me. It is because I love my country that I want people to face up to the dark side of so many things that have been done in and by our country so they can be openly acknowledged and specifically openly repudiated! I want my country to really become like the fond ideals that, in my childhood, I really thought were being lived up to throughout our history by those in positions of authority, and by the general populace. I thought “with liberty and JUSTICE for all” had been a true description, at least after the “emancipation of the slaves” after the Civil War. I believed the “inalienable right to the pursuit of happiness” was available to all.
I was so naïve and ignorant about the whole story of our country. But I feel about my ignorance regarding American History just as I felt about finding out Santa Claus doesn’t exist. My mother often reminded me before she died at age 87 about how aghast I was way back in my childhood when I found out that I had been lied to about Santa Claus by my parents. Even in her old age it still amazed her. Like most parents, she had concluded that once I learned the “truth” about Santa Claus on my own, I’d just be grateful to her and my dad for the years of “fun” I’d had when I’d been under the illusion, and would perpetuate the myth to my own children. NO, the year that I snooped around before Christmas and found the sacks of candy in the kitchen cupboard that showed up a few days later in my Christmas stocking, I was just aghast at the reality that my own parents had lied to me for years. I vowed never to do that to my kids.
I feel the same way about My Country. I don’t want to be told a fairy tale about it. I want to know the good—and be grateful to God for it, and appreciate the legacy of those who contributed to it.
I want to know the bad—and be an “agent of change” to see that the bad is not repeated.
And I want to know about the ugly—and be part of, just like the prophets of ancient Israel, confessing the sins of my nation and asking for God’s mercy.
Only then can He “come and heal our land.”
The Bible is so UTTERLY clear about the careers of its heroes and saints—God did not whitewash them. David’s sins are still being described in sermons 3,000 years after his death. Solomon’s follies are in the permanent record. The New Testament says that those facts and stories were preserved for the “admonition” of later generations. As lessons and warnings. Even the foibles of the best of the best of Jesus’ disciples… Peter, Paul, others… are permanently recorded for the admonition of the Church, not hidden. Paul’s career as a persecutor of Christians…even to their death… is not “photoshopped” out of the Bible! We know about it…and we know about his repentance, change, and ultimate role as Christ’s servant.
The things that have happened in our own land have been preserved in historical records, both in writing and in pictures… I happen to believe, through God’s direct intervention…for OUR admonition in the 21st century. If we insist on creating a false mythology about our history, it’s not true patriotism. It is unhealthy denial.
Let’s celebrate the great things that have been accomplished in our history, let’s honor the honorable. But let’s not neglect repentance.
It’s been neglected for far too long.