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God Bless America and Damn the Rest
September 3, 2003
By Rev. Marie D. Jones

The following is excerpted from the book Looking For God In All The Wrong Places, Paraview Press, 2003 by Rev. Marie D. Jones.

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, free nation.

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 notebooks.

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 against us.

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 and hatred.

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 than others.

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 language.

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.

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