Celebrating Independence Day, unpatriotically

I think there is a basic mis-understanding of what patriotism means.

I’m going to use the simple dictionary definition to work with: “love for or devotion to one’s country”

Does this mean that if I don’t show love or devotion to my country, that I can’t or shouldn’t celebrate Independence Day? I don’t think so.

I don’t understand why I can’t be extraordinarily thankful for people willing to lay their lives down to serve others, and yet not consider myself “patriotic.” My thankfulness applies to individuals, not to nations.

I’m also thankful for philosophers and thinkers such as John Locke and Frederic Bastiat who understood liberty, and what the concept of “the state” represents. But that doesn’t mean I need to show unwavering devotion to “my” country. In fact understanding those great writers motivates me not to do so.

I also think sometimes patriotism is associated with the motivation behind those who fought to gain our independence from England. But, do we really believe the soldiers that fought in the American revolution were thinking “I’m going to go potentially sacrifice my life for this great country of ours!”

The concept of “a country called the United States” didn’t even exist. They were willing to sacrifice their lives in order to resist tyranny. They did it for their families, and themselves. They weren’t doing it for people living 200+ years later. And if they did have any kind of fledgling patriotism, it’s was for whichever “state” they lived in. The US after all was supposed to be a federation of “nation” states.

Jesus told us that He came to give life and give it to the full. I refuse to believe that I can only have that full life if I live in the United States. While I am thankful that I do live in a country that was founded on the principals of liberty, I don’t feel like I need to pledge allegiance to a flag that symbolizes that country. In fact that whole concept is strange to me, and I believe it would be to the founders as well. My only allegiance is to Jesus my King. He has called me to follow Him- in being the best human that I can be.

If history shows us anything, it’s that “nations” come and go. As we can see over the course of this nation’s history, the unethical rich will eventually use their wealth to rent or buy the force of the government. Knowing that this inevitably happens, why would this make me feel devotion to “a country?”

I do celebrate Independence Day. But it’s not out of patriotism.
– I celebrate the freedom that is found in the life Jesus has given me.
– I celebrate the ideas of liberty, that our lives were made by God, to live in fellowship with Him and other humans in voluntary cooperation. I am thankful for the concept of self-ownership.
– I celebrate anyone willing to sacrifice themselves for the emancipation of others.
– I celebrate people and individuals willing to stand up for truth and to resist tyranny.

But I celebrate and am thankful for people. Not “a country.” So please forgive me if I feel like I can celebrate Independence Day and yet NOT feel patriotic.

Having said all that, I don’t believe there is anything necessarily wrong with patriotism, as long as devotion doesn’t turn into idolatry. As long as it doesn’t overshadow the redemptive work of Jesus. As long as it doesn’t become contentious.

Finally, if anything i wrote offended you, I would kindly suggest that you search your heart and ask yourself if your faith, I mean your ultimate faith- your “trust”, is really in Jesus, or whether it is in systems of human force (government). 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.