Five things Friday roundup: How to actually be patriotic

Rob Martinez on Unsplash

1. Love your neighbor as yourself

This second greatest commandment comes from Mark 12:31. That passage also reminds me of young adult author Lauren Morril’s quote in the height of the pandemic: “I don’t know how to explain to you that you should care for other people.” Part of loving one’s country means caring for the people who inhabit it. While it is a quintessential American value to be independent and to have a “every person for themselves” attitude, it is a value for us as Jesus-followers to care for one another, whether or not they are Christians. Your Muslim neighbor, your atheist neighbor, your “God and Country” neighbor: all are deserving of love, even when you may find it difficult.

2. Pray for the U.S. and other places around the globe

While it is tempting to turn away from what’s going on in our world, this can be perceived as an act of selfishness. While I wholeheartedly endorse taking “news breaks” for our own wellbeing, part of being patriotic is being aware of how the U.S. is an agent in the world around us. Are we using power for good or for evil, or both? We can pray for our leaders and decision makers that they would act out of justice and compassion. We can give thanks for the everyday acts of kindness our citizens do around us. We can also call our leaders into account and be good troublemakers that spur on change.

3. Welcome the stranger

It is a biblical mandate to welcome the stranger. From the book of Ruth to the Gospels, it’s clear that our love is to extend beyond our borders, including those who come to the U.S. to seek refuge. While some news outlets compare immigration to crime sprees that increase drugs coming to the U.S., many of us know that so many immigrants in our community make a positive impact on our collective lives. Think of all the ways immigrants contribute to your community. Maybe you yourself are a first- or second-generation immigrant. Think of the courage it would take to uproot your life and move to someplace new. Wouldn’t you want to receive a welcome?

4. Vote

It’s easy to think that there is little one can do to change the world around us. And it is indeed difficult for one person to do that. But collectively, our voice is powerful. Sitting back and throwing up our hands does nothing to create actual change. By having our voices heard through ballots, and ballots being cast for laws of justice to be passed, we are doing what the U.S. asks of us. But we subvert the paradigm of “God and Country” for “Justice and Mercy.” Our united voices make an impact.

5. Be the change

While it can take many people to change the trajectory of a country, it only takes one person to inspire change. True, when it comes to some matters, individual work is not enough. And yet, we naturally look to others and find inspiration from those around us. One voice of dissent in a world of injustice can spur others to action. The example of one’s life can serve as a roadmap to justice and mercy. Even when it doesn’t seem like there is much impact, shaping your life into being more Christ-like will be noticed, and hopefully emulated, by others.

Joanne Gallardo

Joanne Gallardo is conference minister of Indiana-Michigan Mennonite Conference of Mennonite Church USA in Goshen, Indiana. Originally from northwest Ohio, Joanne Read More

Sign up to our newsletter for important updates and news!