The real answer may not be your first response.
My mind keeps returning to the picture from January 6 of the man who used the U.S. Flag that he was carrying to beat a police officer. I’m sure if you asked this man, he would describe himself as a patriot. But consider that, as a symbol of the U.S.A., we hold a certain reverence of the flag, to the extent that we have very specific rules on how it should be treated. In using it to beat someone, not only was it dragged on the ground but was desecrated with blood, sweat, and dirt. (Or perhaps history will say it was sanctified by that trio.) In any case, his actions were at least as dishonorable as burning the flag, if not more so.
If he was not really honoring the flag and our country, then who is his allegiance to? Trump? White supremacy? Any society in which he, himself, can feel powerful?
This issue isn’t just a question for the Right. The Left needs to do some reckoning, too. Not all who marched in BLM protests this last year want equality and parity. Some of them want supremacy. Some want payback. And the Anarchists, adept at infiltrating any protest, want to tear down whatever government is in existence.
So, let’s look at some possible answers to the question: Who/what holds your allegiance?
- My Country
- My Family
There are many more, but you get the idea. Now let’s dig a little deeper.
Say your answer was Trump. Why?
- Because he upholds the Constitution. He doesn’t. Don’t believe me? Read it for yourself here. (A great interactive website, by the way.)
- Because he does what he says he will. He doesn’t, or he would have gone to the Capitol with the crowd like he said he was.
- Because all my friends say he’s a good guy. Where are they getting their information?
- Because my pastor says he’s a good Christian and is against abortion. (We’ll talk more about this one later.)
- Because I like what he says. But what about his follow-through? And who really benefits?
Remember, he is a human subject to all the frailties we humans can have.
And if you answered Biden, why?
- Because he’s not Trump. While true, that is pretty lame, don’t you think?
- Because he’ll uphold the Constitution. If his past record is any indication, that’s probably true.
- Because I think he can heal our nation. Time will tell. Many point to problems in his early years in office. But, then, he may have learned from his mistakes.
Remember, he is a human, too.
My Country, some of you answered.
In that case, I would guess that you grew up when I did, when we all said the Pledge of Allegiance first thing every morning in school. And you remember the slogan, “My country, right or wrong.” In that era, it usually meant that you trusted the country’s leadership to have all our best interests at heart. Now, it usually means that you are willing to work with the “wrongs” and try to fix them, because it is worth preserving what is right.
- Are the policies you back good for everyone, or only a few?
- Would you be able to answer 12 of 20 questions from the 128 Civics Questions and Answers with MP3 Audio (2020 version) like immigrants must? Work with a friend and give it a try. I bet you’ll be surprised.
But remember, our country is created and run by people. So, it’s not perfect and can be made better — or corrupted.
Perhaps you said your Family.
I’d say you’re more honest with yourself than many. You’d do anything for them, even if they were wrong. Even if it required you to break the law to protect them. It’s a value as old as humanity itself, hard-wired into our survival instincts, I suspect. I might not agree with you in all circumstances, but I certainly understand.
Knowing my readership, I’d guess a few answered Myself.
Some of you in this category live for yourselves and yourselves only. You want what is best for you. You don’t care what happens to others and are a true narcissist.
But most of you are generally people who aren’t religious but seek to live morally. Those whom I know personally actually hold themselves to a high outside standard that they try to internalize, usually Love or Compassion.
Some of you said God.
Maybe even Jesus, or Allah, or YHWH, or some other spiritual person or concept. Wonderful! Do your actions follow your words? Or does your answer mask a reality closer to one of the other answers or another ideology altogether? All too often it is the latter.
I promised to tackle the Christian and Trump thing, and now is the time.
First, we aren’t a Christian nation. I address that in the article, America Is Not a Christian Nation — Never Has Been, Nor Should It Be, here on Medium and here on my blog. And there is nothing in the behavior of the 45th President that indicates he lives a life of faith. True, no one is perfect. But his meanness, pettiness and selfishness are hard to explain away. So why do so many who call themselves Christian idolize him? And that is exactly what many do with blind faith.
Second, single issue politics are never a good idea. Abortion seems to be the issue of choice in the twenty-first century, but let me put it another way. How does one reconcile Pro-Life with the deaths in detainment facilities of illegal immigrants seeking asylum? With the increase in Federal executions, including the first woman in 70 years? With the condemnation of women (married or not) to a life of poverty because they’ve been denied access to birth control, to abortion, and subsequently to assistance to give their children a better chance at life? This is my biggest gripe with Party Politics. I have yet to see a platform from either party that I could wholly support. Life is just too complicated.
Theologically, Jesus told us in Matthew 22:21 “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” What God requires of his people isn’t the same as what governments require. Things like taxes, laws, and government institutions exist to make it possible for people to live together in a society, to pool their resources for defense and (hopefully) the common good. But God says, “Do Justice, Love Mercy, and walk Humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8)
Quite frankly, I haven’t seen those qualities in the Trump rallies, or the Insurrection riot, or in many of the posts my Christian friends have passed along on social media. Definitely not among QAnon posts. When someone starts to get you worked up over what “They” are doing, stop and ask yourself: If this situation was brought before Jesus like the prostitute was in John 8:2-11, how would he respond?
For example, when I was in High School and considering careers, my love of languages had one teacher suggesting the Foreign Service. I was way too stubborn and independent for the military. Vietnam was ending, Watergate was ending, and the world seemed to be opening up. I considered her suggestion, and subsequently discarded it. It sounded exciting, but I realized that I might be ordered to do something that could be morally wrong. Who would I follow? I decided I couldn’t put myself into that kind of a quandary. For some it wouldn’t be either/or. Yes, I love my country. But for me, my identity as a follower of Jesus must take precedence — and that is a lot harder in my experience than you’d think.
As with many things, our true allegiances aren’t so cut and dried.
There is generally a hierarchy and blending, and that often changes with our experience, learning, and life changes. But if you don’t know where your allegiance truly lies, you can easily be led down paths you don’t intend to go. And for those of us who claim to be spiritually grounded — particularly those of us who follow Jesus — we do have a higher standard to meet: Love. Love of God and love of Others, also known as The Golden Rule which, to my thinking, is a decent recipe for all people.
At the end of the day, we are commanded to Love. Whether we live in a democracy, theocracy, monarchy, dictatorship, or the midst of a civil war, we are called to Justice, Compassion, and Humility — the knowledge that we live only by the Grace and Love of God. That is the foundation from which we are to interact with our fellow human beings and the world.
Grace, Peace and Hugs to you all.