What if America was Never “Great?”

I generally refrain from political posts but the slogan of a certain tangerine-colored Republican, along with its many earned shouts of agreement nation-wide,  has tripped my “thinking wire” several times in the last year. I will advocate for neither Trump nor Hillary (I am on neither side because neither candidate is on my side, dear reader) but I am wondering: what does he mean by “great?” Shouldn’t supporters flesh out what he means by “great” before supporting him?

If you type “great” into Google you get the following results:

“of an extent, amount, or intensity considerably above the normal or average.”

Okay. Cool. But what are we supposed to be “above the norm” on? If you follow his example, we’re supposed to be great at objectifying women, great belligerents, have great egos and flagrantly flaunt our great worldly ways. (Contrary to to 1 Peter 2:9 ” But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, to proclaim the virtues of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”)

Perhaps Trump supporters could tell me what “great” we are trying to get “back” to? Because in order for that slogan to make sense, America had to once have been “great” and we must not now be “great” so we are trying to get back to being “great.”

But do we really want to go back to the things we were once “great” at? Despite what rose-colored (or perhaps I should say white-washed?) history books tell you, America’s story has some terribly bleak, sorrowful parts:

-the marginalization, assimilation, discrimination and outright heart-wrenching treatment of and against almost every non-white population of fellow humans that stood in our greedy, power-bent way (slavery, Japanese internment camps, the outrageous way we treated the unique Native American peoples of this land, many people’s current mindsets toward Hispanics and Middle Easterners)

-the fact that it took one of the bloodiest wars in history to free precious human beings  from under the heel of  often abusive and degrading enslavement

-The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, decimating Japanese lives and forcing them to live with the effects right up unto present day (71 years hence). Wherever you fall on the was it right to do so/not do so, the fact still remains that the bombings did destroy lives that were just as precious as American lives and people still live with their effects today.

The America of the past was great for some. NOT all.

Sure, we’ve also done some great things: helped free prisoners of the Holocaust, forged the way in fields like medicine and technology,  aided foreign nations, stood for freedom. This post is not a dump on America; it’s meant to provoke thought on what his slogan actually means and ultimately whether we want to go “back” to being great or move forward to being “greatER

Yes, there are some really awesome things about living in America (variety of climates and landscapes for travel/sightseeing, great access to books and translations of foreign works, freedom of speech)

But there are also some terrible things: crime rates in cities, mindset toward immigrants, obesity rates, healthcare system, public education (especially in the foreign language department), prison and rehab systems……….)

So does he mean the “great” America of the (somewhat) past where whites were seen as superior?

Or does he mean we need to get back to “simpler times?” (not likely since the man lives in such luxury himself).

I am completely willing to sacrifice “simple times” for a time when all races genuinely feel that their heritage’s unique attributes are loved, embraced, and cherished on American soil.

America and its citizens, from a Christian perspective, are part of a fallen world. Thus, America is not, nor has it ever been, nor will it ever be a perfect nation and we may as well quit trying to pretend it is (or was). It isn’t even “best,” for all countries do some things well and some things not so well. Americans have been great racists (and it’s still a huge problem today). Americans have been great Pharisees. Idiocy has been great in America too.

So what if instead of the old “great,”we move toward an even greater “great”? A great where it’s functionally acted upon that not only that all human life is precious but that diversity—of skin color, language, and nationality— is cherished by all Americans.

What if instead of building a “wall” we built a way? And even more so, fellow followers of Jesus, pointed to the Way Himself?

Diversity is great. But cultivating a culture where diversity is LOVED is even better. It’s one thing to have diversity but that’s very different from embracing diversity.

That is my sincerest wish. And the church should be the leading force in this reconciliation. I pray we head the movement valiantly and and that bold leaps forward are made in that direction during my lifetime. I yearn to see all peoples embraced in communities in America.

I want to hear five different languages spoken as I pass people on the street. Unlike many people (especially in small towns), I grin when I am asked “Spanish or English?”

I ache for a country where our differences in skin tone and language is celebrated and used to learn from one another, not as sharpened weapons for exclusion and the perpetuation of hatred.

My fellow Americans: If you hate diversity, if you hate the idea of sharing a workplace with someone from Mexico, if your skin crawls at the idea of an Iraqi doctor moving in next door, if you feel the urge to spit on the woman on the street because she wears a head-covering, if you jerk your head in anger when you hear an Asian language spoken,

then Heaven is not the place you want to go.

After this I looked, and there was a vast multitude from every nation, tribe, people, and language, which no one could number, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were robed in white with palm branches in their hands.” (Revelation 7:9)

In that truest, most beautiful and perfect of kingdoms my longing for unity will be fulfilled perfectly at last.

Am I advocating for letting everyone in without regulation? No (that would do harm to both incoming peoples and current residents). But I think we should strive to make immigration as painless, as efficient,  as affordable, and as warm an experience as possible to as many people as possible. (And help them become established in a community).

One last note: I am proud to be an American!

But I am ever more humbled to be considered  citizen, a daughter in the kingdom of God that unlike America IS perfect, unlike America IS everlasting, unlike America is undeniably and unfathomably “GREAT.”



2 thoughts on “What if America was Never “Great?”

  1. Do you really feel as though we should not have dropped bombs on Japan during wartime? Do you think that somehow we could have “talked things out?” I don’t really believe you have a true understanding of what went on during that war or how terrible of an enemy the Japanese were.
    I could write a long post and list points but honestly, you’d be better served to read a book or watch a documentary. I’m unsure if you understand how ignorant that statement was.
    I don’t understand the point you’re trying to make in this article because the country you’re saying shouldn’t be hailed as great also is the only country to be founded on the ideal of diversity you claim to be of utmost importance. You attempt to make a point that America wasn’t great because it had to fight a war to free slaves, but you’re completely discounting the fact that Americans literally gave their lives and fought a hellish war to free slaves. What? Has America not been the greatest liberating world power to ever exist on the face of the earth? Do we not contribute more to causes to save the oppressed, to help those in dire need than any other group of people known to history? I suppose we just still don’t deserve the compliment of being called great.
    The campaign slogan wasn’t about tapping into some hidden widespread racist mindset that lies deep in the hearts of white Americans, it was about removing burdensome taxes and regulations that the middle class bears the load of. It was about allowing our military to do their job and defeat our enemies. It was about restoring law and order so our inner cities can once again thrive. All things America used to have. All this to say “make America great again.”
    You need to truly research, digest, and consider opposing opinions before you criticize in an open fashion.


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