Bless America and Damn the Rest
By Rev. Marie D. Jones
following is excerpted from the book Looking For God In
All The Wrong Places, Paraview Press, 2003 by Rev. Marie
The terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001 changed the
lives of every American citizen, and many citizens of countries
all around the world. Every heart ached for the lost lives
and the downed heroes. Every soul searched for the answers
to why something so terrible could occur in such a great,
For many people in other nations, terrorist attacks occur
daily, and tragedy is just something to get used to. But for
the people of the United States, our sense of safety and security
had been pulled out from under us, and our freedom had been
challenged. Even as we mourned the loss of thousands of innocent
loved ones, we raised our flags proudly, and displayed "God
Bless America" stickers on our cars, our homes and our children's
For a short time, we came together not just as a nation,
but also as human beings united in our pain and suffering.
We realized how much we loved our families, our neighborhoods,
and our wonderful country. We called ourselves "Americans"
with a newfound pride and honor we hadn't felt in years.
Then nine or ten months later things began to change. Our
sense of nationalism began to turn into a boastful arrogance
and bullying that now threatens to make Americans the most
hated people on earth. We began to cross the fine line of
being proud citizens to being fanatical nationalists who felt
our country alone was special, blessed by God and all others
be damned. We sat passively by as our administration called
for war against any nation we deemed against us, not realizing
it was our own arrogance that had turned many on foreign soil
We didn't care. We were Americans. We were the best, the
highest, the most moral and powerful. And we were going to
let everyone else know it in no uncertain terms. God blessed
us. God loved us. God preferred us. And we had the bumper
stickers to prove it.
Nationalism becomes destructive when citizens forget that
they are all a melting pot of traditions, creeds, colors and
beliefs, and instead gather under one banner of belief that
often undermines the very freedoms they hold dear. The worship
of a country over its people and their needs only leads to
strife, and often war. Sometimes, free societies are turned
into dictatorships when unilateral power sends government
leaders into the stratosphere of unchecked corruption.
Hitler was a good little nationalist, as were his millions
of followers. They would do, and did do, anything for their
nation and its leadership. Look what that did to the rest
of the world and you can see the danger inherent in worshipping
your nation as if it were "chosen by God."
There is nothing wrong with being proud of your heritage
and loving your country and all its beauty and awesome splendor.
After the attacks, I felt so much respect for my fellow citizens,
especially the heroes who died trying to save others. I flew
a flag outside my house, and put a sticker on my refrigerator.
I remember going outside a few days later and having a candlelight
vigil with neighbors, and the children on our street sang
patriotic songs. We all swelled with pride at what our nation
represented, and what its people could accomplish when they
all came together in love.
But some people take love of nation a little too far. When
you see people waving flags and yelling out car windows, "God
Bless America and all you Muslims go home!" (or take your
pick: "you Blacks," "you Jews," "you Catholics") you have
crossed that fine line into fanaticism, intolerance, bigotry
I began to see more and more of this rather unpatriotic
behavior as the months passed on, and nowadays it isn't uncommon
for someone with a "United We Stand" bumper sticker to cut
me off on the freeway and give me the finger. One time I watched
a woman with a "God Bless America" sticker on her rear window
toss trash out onto the road. So much for respecting your
country. I guess people are more enamored of the symbol of
what it means to be American than the actual land they love
to pollute, spit on, litter and abuse. We fly our flags high,
even as we throw out tons of garbage that could be recycled,
and toss still-burning cigarette butts into open fields.
And as for coming together as one people, tell that to my
Middle Eastern friends whom have been the victims of hate
crimes, racial profiling and vandalism ever since many Americans
became convinced that certain groups of people are more divine
I know of one woman who wanted to join a support group I
was involved in, but she was so terrified of being misunderstood
because of her Middle Eastern background, she backed out at
the last minute. I felt terrible, knowing how much she needed
real love and support at such a shaky time in her life, yet
because of her nationality, she felt she had to hide in the
shadows until it was someday safe to come out again - if ever.
When one nation's citizens begin to believe they are deserving
of special treatment, it opens the door to a future of suffering
for all that nation's citizens, and for the entire world.
We are all humans, and we are all united in the human experience,
whether or not our skin shades match or we speak the same
I love my country. You love yours. He loves his and she
loves hers. That's healthy. But I don't for a minute believe
my country is any more touched by the hand, and preference,
of the Creator than any other country. After all, the same
intelligence that made one country, made them all, as well
as all the planets, galaxies and star systems out there in
the vast beyond.
How about a new bumper sticker: God Bless the Universe?
Rev. Marie Jones is a New Thought minister and widely published
inspirational writer. Her new book is Looking for God
in All the Wrong Places, Paraview Press, 2003. She is also
a producer, children's video creator, progressive activist
and married mom of Max. She can be reached via www.m-powered.org.