"American progressives can’t ever match conservatives in displays of febrile patriotism, and for good reason. What Jesus told his followers about prayer is also good advice about loving a country: “Thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men.”
Moreover, anyone who’s spent five minutes thinking about human history knows how dangerously volatile nationalism is. This is especially important to keep in mind in a country that has used nuclear weapons and pondered whether to drop tungsten rods on our enemies from orbit.
Nonetheless, I believe it behooves all of us to consider and celebrate what is resplendent about the United States of America.
First, if you don’t do so, you wear blinders that prevent you from seeing a giant chunk of reality. In Catholic theology most souls are of middling virtue — but the ones which are not are generally not good or evil alone but both at once. As St. Augustine put it, “my two wills, one old and the other new, one carnal, the other spiritual, contend within me.” The same goes for countries: If they’re not in the middle of the bell curve they often occupy both ends simultaneously. That is definitely the United States.
Second, one of America’s most beautiful attributes is that we have freedom and resources that our fellow malcontents in many other countries could only dream of. Pretending that we don’t have this wiggle room is — particularly for white activists — to show ourselves to be distastefully spoiled.
Third, being conscious of this country’s upside is the only way we’ll ever be able to communicate with anyone outside the minute lefty archipelago. The lived experience of millions of Americans has been that it’s superior to where their families once came from. Trying to convince them that it’s uniformly appalling is like trying to convince them that they have three arms. That’s not going to work.
Finally, it’s critical for our own psychological wellbeing. Much about America’s past has been hideous and much about the present is grim. But keeping that going as an endless interior monologue is a recipe for stasis and failure. Conversely, an appreciation of the glorious parts of the U.S. is motivation to protect and expand them. The right loves to accusingly demand, 'Do you love this country?' We need the confidence to give the correct answer, which is 'I love the parts you’re trying to destroy.'
So for July 4, I’ve made a list of what’s most deeply meaningful to me about America."
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