If You Love America, What Is It That You Love?

I’ve heard it said that when someone loves America, they love what the idea of it stands for. They love the people in it. They love what the founders were after. But when it comes down to what the government does, these same will criticize it to the point of a nagging spouse who resents everything the offending spouse stands for. In fact, they’re ready for divorce. What gives? Why this discrepancy between ideal and actuality?

It is interesting that people do not hold this ideal/actuality distinction when referring to other countries. When these people say they wouldn’t want to live in Canada, France, Britain, Djibouti, South Africa, Japan, Laos, Australia, or Brazil, I don’t think they’re talking about what idea these countries stand for, the general populace in these countries, or what their founders were after. They say they wouldn’t want to live there because of the current laws there, the regimes in place, the underlying socio/economic/political climate is. So whence the inconsistency when talking about America? Maybe it is because this is their home. Maybe if they were from one of the aforementioned countries, they would make the distinction ideal/actuality distinction there as they do here.

If it comes down to what we have in place, I both love and despise this country. I love that there is at least the constitutional possibility of free speech, press, religion, assembly, petition, bearing of arms, against quartering troops, all that supposed legal protection (provided you’re loaded enough to defend yourself), etc. I despise the fact that there are so many laws, one is near being a criminal for existing. I despise that many constitutional guarantees are “legally” (not constitutionally of course, unless we also get to get bent over by the corruption within some judges who interpret the constitution/laws against their pretty plain meaning) run over by 3 letter agencies, because they have standing armies to justify their actions and we don’t. I love that my political enemies are generally content not to literally eviscerate my family or me. I hate that we are polarized so deeply because the people can’t realize there might be more than 2 options on the table at any time. But if we come down to it, where we judge our love for something by a government’s actions, then I can’t stand America. I can’t stand the silent slavery of the majority to the secret few. The government knows too well not to be too overt in its coercion or oppression, or people might actually wake up from their yawning stupor, their contentment with bread and circuses, and revolt. Or at least change something drastically. I’m ready for change. Not empty promises. Change. Change toward freedom.

Unconditional love? You really, deep down, unconditionally believe that?

Greetings my lovelies. Sorry I’ve been gone for awhile. I know you’ve been ravenously awaiting my next entry, so here goes.

I wonder if unconditional love is more of a wish than a reality. Some claim God has unconditional love for humanity. Some say that they unconditionally love their spouse or children. Others claim it is something people should exhibit toward others, so that these others can reach their full potential. Maybe I’m weird, but I call this whole concept malarkey. Unconditional? Really? Out of Jesus’ own mouth (well, depending on what you think of the Gospel of John) come these words: “If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love” (15.10 NIV). That’s a pretty blatant conditional statement. One could easily read that and understand, “If you don’t obey my commands, you won’t remain in my love…and probably my Father’s love either.” In fact, you remember that hell thing? This next thing will cover unconditional love and free will. If there were truly a free choice in the matter, one could live one’s life as one chose and there wouldn’t be any repercussions, like a guy asking a girl out, she says no, and the guy, though heartbroken because she’s awesome, let’s her go because he wants her to be happy and understands she won’t be happy if he forces her to be with him or gives her an ultimatum, “Go out with me, or I will torture you for a very long time.” When put like that, it kind of sounds like that Ariel Castro guy, tyrannical, and nothing like a freely chosen relationship. Hell is that thing you get for not choosing God, and definitely puts an eternal conditional on his love for people. I’m sure there are theological ways out of the seeming disparity between God’s unconditional love and the concept of a choice between eternity with God and that without him in burning darkness, but I’m horrifically ignorant of its resolution. My betters can counsel me in the way of light.

Let’s go to the unconditional love people say they hold for their families. Let’s say you’ve been in a committed relationship with your spouse since you were in your teens, and you are now in your fifties. Let’s say you just find out that not only has your spouse been sexually abusing children since he was in his teens, but has also been doing the same thing to your own kids their entire lives, and has been exceptionally good at hiding it until, say, yesterday for some reason. Rather than unconditional positive regard for this person, is not rather your blood going to curdle? Will not rage ejaculate in unrelenting passion? Will you not see justice to its end, if not by a judge and jury, at your own hands? Probably. Unless you hate children and enjoy seeing them suffer at your unconditionally loved’s whim. Or let’s say you’ve been with your spouse since your teens, you’re in your fifties, your children are out of the house, out of college. Let’s say one day you come home, only to find your eldest carving on your dead spouse’s corpse while painting his face with her blood and laughing hysterically. Let’s say this is also incredibly out of character for your eldest, that he was a good student, popular with everyone, and involved in his youth and college groups heavily. Would you be standing there, waiting with open arms to say, “I understand. This isn’t like you. We’re going to get through this because I love you. Sure, you took away the light of my life, the mother of my children, but I’ve still got you, right?” The cold, lifeless universe cries a resounding, “No, no you wouldn’t.”

Granted, these are rather radical examples, maybe too ridiculous to be taken seriously. But if they did happen, would this person hold unconditional love in high regard? Maybe it exists, just not with all people, and not at all times. Perhaps. Or perhaps it is entirely dependent on the other person at least not being a maniac. And them probably exhibiting at least an ounce of reciprocity in love. Or maybe I’m just a dark, negative ninny who needs to find happier things to write about. You’re a reader. You judge for yourself, and figure what I totally left out of the conversation.