“A man who really loves his country will love her in her ruin and degeneration–“England, with all thy faults, I love thee still.” C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves
Today Americans celebrate the independence of our nation – and yet we know that many of us are not celebrating. There are reasons, on this 4th of July, to be a bit jaded. There is much division. Foundational principles seem to be dissipating. We may be disappointed in our leaders, disappointed in our institutions, and disappointed in each other. There is cause to be pessimistic and angry. And yet, this is our home. We should love it, be grateful for it. It is a truly sad thing when people start hating their own home, their own countrymen. Often we seek to convince our pessimistic countrymen, we speak of the many wonderful and unique freedoms and blessings of America, all the reasons we should love Her. Perhaps it would be better to stop looking for reasons and just love her because she is ours.
The idea of loyalty seems increasingly lost in our modern mindset. Yet loyalty is a glue that keeps imperfect people together. My husband and I teach our children to be loyal to their siblings, “Don’t speak badly about your brother to your friends, be loyal.” But why loyalty? Family is important, much more important than schoolyard gossip- it is a gift God has given us. It would be wonderful if our brother was perfect, he isn’t, but he is our brother, and that has to mean something. When we treat our family with respect and loyalty, we can become great. Loyalty is trusting that the “accidents” of our birth are blessings rather than curses. Loyalty grows into strength.
“A mother does not give her child a blue bow because she is so ugly without it. If men loved [their home] as mothers love children, arbitrarily, because it is theirs, their home in a year or two might be fairer than Florence. People first paid honor to a spot and then gained glory for it.”G.K. Chesterton
And so we love America still. We do not shut our eyes to faults, but we love with what seems an irrational loyalty. Chesterton summarizes it well, (his words “our home” is replaced with America)
“My acceptance of [America] is no optimism, it is more like patriotism. It is a matter of primary loyalty. [America] is not a lodging house in Brighton, which we are to leave because it is miserable. It is the fortress of our family, with the flag flying on the turret, and the more miserable it is the less we should leave it. The point is not that [America] is too sad to love or too glad not to love; the point is that when you do love a thing, its gladness is the reason for loving it, and its sadness a reason for loving it more. Men did not love Rome because she was great. She was great because they had loved her.”G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy
This loyalty, this patriotism, this “irrational optimism”, as Chesterton calls it, for our homeland is not stupid or naive, it is gratitude and love. Today as we celebrate America, let us love her, our home, with loyalty.
C.S. Lewis on Patrotism. https://ponderingprinciples.com/2019/08/17/lewis-on-love-of-country/