Love Letter to My Country

This morning the news flashed across my web browser, U.S. death toll in the Iraq war is at 4,000.  Far surpassing the 2,975 people who died on September 11th.  And we're only counting U.S. fatalities.  

But rather than do another rant as I did on the fifth anniversary of the start of this immoral war, I will try to listen to the pastoral suggestion of Rev. Sinkford, president of the UUA.  For indeed I do love my country and that's the reason why this war upsets me so.

I love my country, the United States.  As a child I was taught that this country was founded upon the ideals of liberty, equality, and justice for all.  I was taught that never before in the history of human kind had these ideals been so clearly articulated - this great experiment in democracy.  And they captured my imagination and heart.

Later on I came to know that we did not always live up to our ideals, far from it.  I learned that liberty and equality initially meant just for white, land-owning men.  But even if our founding fathers were not perfect, the ideals that they dreamed were bigger than their own limited perceptions.  And I learned how brave women and men of different colors and creeds and orientations have struggled to expand the circle of who is included in liberty, equality, and justice for all.  We are still struggling with that.  But however difficult, in this country, our moral arc does always eventually bend towards justice.  We have expanded the circle of justice ever wider.  We do eventually live up to ourselves.

I love my country.  I take seriously its ideals.

Which is why this war so pains me.  I hear people try to defend the immorality of this war by saying that whatever wrongs we are committing, Saddam was worse.  And I think to myself, so?  Is this how low we've sunk that we compare ourselves to brutal dictators?  It's not Saddam whom I love, whom I believe in.  <b>We</b> know better.  We know that torture is wrong. We used to have one of the best records in the world against torture.  We know that sending our young adults off to kill and die in a war that does not make us safer is wrong.  4,000 dead.  The vast majority of them under 30 years of age. For a war that they had no say over, that benefits only the few who declared it yet do not risk their own lives.  We know better.  And once again we are maiming a generation of those who wished nothing but to serve.

I will always love my country.  This is not conditional love.  Even at our lowest, when we sink from fear to be the worst we can be, I am still unabashedly American.  But at our lowest, I will be reminding us of how we can be better.  Because I know we can.  We can more fully embody all the awesome potential that is within us.  As Rev. Sinkford said, "We want to become the kind of people we thought we were."

America, I grieve for us, for our loss.  

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Acknowledgments is made possible in part by generous support from the Fahs Collaborative