Loving a Broken America (Part 2 of 2)

Loving a Broken America (Part 2 of 2) June 25, 2017
Osage representatives with President Coolidge at the White House in 1924. Photograph: Bettmann/Getty
Osage representatives with President Coolidge at the White House in 1924. Photograph: Bettmann/Getty

Love Does Not Need to Be Blind

In part 1, I discussed the case of the Osage Indian murders thoughtfully retold in the book Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBIas well as the difficulty of reconciling the love of country with the injustices committed by and against its citizens. The rise of nationalism surrounding the election of President Trump highlights a divide in our nation that has always been but appears to be ever more present in our lives. While nationalism demands a level of blind support of the nation despite its flaws, patriotism does not. Many of us have experienced people who define themselves as “true patriots”, those that stay focused on American exceptionalism and wear an armor of “love this country or get out”. However, one can deeply love their country and accept it has made mistakes, this is the real definition of true patriotism.

Catholic Responsibility to Sacrifice for the Good

As Catholics we should never dismiss our ability to assist Heaven through prayer, fasting, and sacrifice, to heal the wounds in our life whether they our personal, professional, community, state, national or global. It is our responsibility to be the light of the world. The world is not limitless in resources, therefore it is important to take seriously the responsibility to respect the rifts and damages that have occurred in our nation’s history and work to understand and learn from them. This is not a one and done event. We know through the use of the liturgical calendar the importance of reminders of what God has given us and how we must remain steadfast in transforming our lives. The humility we apply to succumbing to the will of God is the same humility we should use in reconciling with our neighbors, even more so in a country of immigrants.

Exultation of the Meek

Harsh criticisms to get out of America if a person does not like it fail to consider that for millions of citizens the infrastructure of our country is from their ancestor’s slavery, of which we know very few of their names. Raising their voices in frustration at the exultation of Confederate soldiers in town squares while few monuments are erected for the forgotten slaves that physically built the cities and sustained the economy is not an act of hatred toward the nation or government, but instead a call of correction. We transformed plantations into wedding venues and galas. These were places where families were ripped apart and where freedom was a luxury of being born the right color. Something as simple as tracing your ancestry becomes a heartbreaking experience if you must search through advertisements of where your ancestors were sold. We should be diligent in respecting grievances.

We Have the Power to Reconcile Our Nation

Discussed in Killers of the Flower Moon is the assignment of white guardians to the Osage Indians to manage their money. The wisdom to take care of their own funds was determined specifically by their race and nothing more. They had to request to use what was rightfully theirs because it was assumed white people knew what was best for them. This type of control and white superiority is an example of the systemic and institutionalized racism that many do not want to believe or think no longer applies. One must only look in our overcrowded prisons disproportionately represented by black men to know we are not yet equal in the systems that govern our daily lives and determine our freedoms. Our nation has the ability to correct these grave errors. We have the right to vote for and converse with the people who represent us. Loving America means thoughtfully and prayerfully involving ourselves in the republic. Now is not the time for Catholics or any Christians to extract themselves from the politics of our time. We are the bearers of Truth and even in times of peril we must continue to offer Truth. The ability for information to be shared so quickly and from places that had no voice before seems to have scared away some faithful from the public square. We should be steadfast to meet those in pain and distress, not defend our decisions to shy away with worries that the Church is in a tailspin. Have faith that the gates of Hell shall not prevail against her, as Jesus proclaimed. Understand that careers and reputations could be at stake for standing for the Truth. This should not be a surprise, as we are asked to offer our lives. We should continue to offer, as Catholics, the fortitude and the respect to not dismiss the past as irrelevant. The trajectory of our nation was created through centuries of imbalance of equality. If we want to be true patriots we must show to our neighbors that we hear them and love them because they are America. They are the America worth loving.

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