A Prayer for Patriotism

July 3, 2024

Written By


I recently had the privilege and great joy of meeting a young man from the Philippines. I knew very little about his country; only that it is still considered a developing country.  I have since learned that according to 2021 statistics, nearly 25% of the population lives below the poverty line, and it is ranked 116 out of 191 countries in the Human Development Index (HDI)—a metric considering health, education, and standard of living.  While improvements are being made, the country of the Philippines faces great challenges in terms of infrastructure, healthcare, and education.  Even so, seemingly in contrast to the country’s present position, the Filipinos I have met are well-educated, possessing a sophisticated world knowledge, and an incredible work ethic absent from so many Americans.  And so upon meeting this young man, I could not help but ask, “Have you ever considered moving someplace else?”  He did not hesitate: “No, my heart beats for my country.”  He went on to say that his dream is to become involved in leadership, working to improve his country.

I have to say, I was stunned by the conspicuous patriotism of this young man—mainly because it has been a long time since I have witnessed anything resembling patriotism in my own country.  With a HDI ranking of 20th (we have our own struggles keeping us out of the top 10%) our country is considered highly developed.  Infrastructure can vary state to state, but it is relatively easy to get around.  Internet access is generally abundant and of good quality. While we spend significantly more than any other developed nation on healthcare, our inefficiencies and inconsistent access affect our standing when compared to top-rated countries.  However, the vast majority of Americans can be treated, even when unable to pay for healthcare services.  Our land is breathtaking in its diverse geography and natural beauty, offering countless opportunities for recreation and enjoyment.  America has always been considered a land of opportunity, and that story continues: myriad modern immigrants are welcomed into our land, are brave enough to risk setting up businesses, and are willing to work tirelessly to see them succeed.  You still can become whatever you aspire to in this country, given a dream, a drive, hard work, and a sprinkling of good luck.

And yet, a large swath of our population is fixated on elevating this country’s negatives as its dominant characteristics.  For example: yes, racism exists, but the positive progress we have garnered in a relatively short amount of time is staggering.  If you truly don’t believe that, study your history about the way our society operated just 75 short years ago.  It will read like the social structure of another planet.  Because that is the distance our communities have progressed over a short period of decades.

Instead of focusing on developing real relationships, thereby strengthening our communities with strong cords of interdependency, some seek to divide by focusing on differences of gender and race and age.  I believe if left alone, given natural human curiosity, compassion, and the essential need for connection, we would seek each other out and discover   wonder in our unique qualities as well as those we share.  But instead, we are manipulated to find fault, and irritation with petty differences.

But we don’t have to succumb to manipulation.  I think most people know in their hearts that God’s spirit is alive and well in the majority of humans, and if we take the time to really get to know one another and appreciate their perspective, there is so much more common in the human experience than idiosyncrasies that work to divide.

God knows, America is imperfect, but I know I would never consider a permanent home anywhere else.  I love this country with all of its foibles: when I look at our beautiful flag, I see a sacred icon representing a complex and inspiring history, as well as all of the promise that our future holds.  Certainly, millions of others appreciate America’s benefits as compared to other nations, risking life and limb to cross our borders to freedom.

My prayer this Independence Day is that Americans will also be able to appreciate with clear eyes the gift that our country remains to all of its citizens. I pray that our leadership will foster by example a gratitude for the blessings America offers. I pray that patriotism will return as a seed in the breast of every one of our American youth, to be encouraged and nurtured through truth and example, so that one day they might each feel, if not voice, “My heart beats for my country.”


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Beth Graham

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