Monday, August 14, 2017

My Country, Your Country

Andreas Feininger, The Statue of Liberty darkened during a war time "dim out" of New York City's lights, 1943

Borders, flags, armies, insignia, nations, tribes, and sects all testify to the frightened selfishness of human nature. The world is roughly 200 nations -- and who knows how many tribes -- who all hate each other’s guts, whose governments and leaderships are all more or less corrupt, and who use their people’s fear and loathing of outsiders to justify their hold on power. We are too selfish and frightened to ever be perfectly good. We are also too selfish and frightened to be perfectly evil. We live in a world of ten thousand equivocations and must make our way and do our best in it. We love our friends and families despite their flaws, and we expect them to love us despite ours.
If we love our countries, we do so for the same reason we love our families (by birth and by choice); not because they are so wonderful, but because they are ours. We live in those countries and so are invested in them. We have a real stake in their success, and so we work hard and go through a lot to make them succeed. We struggle always to bring into concrete physical reality those golden phantom abstractions Freedom and Justice for ourselves and especially for our children. We know that mutual respect and fellowship between us and our neighbors is our best and most secure fortress against predation and misfortune. The best guarantee of Liberty and Justice for me and mine is Liberty and Justice for All. My freedom and dignity is bound up with the freedom and dignity of all of those I live with. And so, we work and struggle to bring into being a just world that each and all of us would want to live in on any level.