As you might imagine, I intended to write this yesterday, but we had a crazy and busy day (like I'm sure most of you did), and I was too bushed at the end of the day. So here it is, one day late.
To the extent that I even HAVE grown up, I grew up during the Carter and Reagan administrations. Back then, the Soviet Union was still going strong--or so it appeared at least. Before the collapse of Communism in Europe, it was still fashionable in this country for those of a non-conformist temperament to call themselves Socialists or even Communists. This is especially true among young people who either did not know about or did not care about the way Communist states treated their citizens who did not tote the party line.
At the high school I attended, students would often ask each other things like, "You're not a Communist, are you?" or even "What type of government do you believe in?" Anyone who indicated anything but 100% pure American patriotism was viewed as (at best) suspect, even barely human.
Nowadays, if someone were to ask me what type of government I believe in, I would say "Monarchy." By this I do not mean that I want a human king to rule over me. Instead, I mean that my loyalty is first and foremost to Christ the King and to His Kingdom than to any human government. I suppose that I could also say that I believe in theocracy -- not the type that exists in nations like Iran, nor the type that many on the Religious Right are accused of wanting to put in place (though in reality, almost none of them really want this--but that is another issue altogether). I simply pledge my primarily allegiance to Christ my King and my God.
This is why I don't get terribly excited about the Fourth of July. I seldom take part in any of the festivities, and flag waving is not for me. I don't get misty-eyed when patriotic songs are sung (in fact, I don't even care for most of them).
Does this mean that I am anti-American? Far from it! I love my country; I just don't give it my primary allegiance. I agree with Benjamin Franklin, who wisely said that democracy is the second-worst form of government on earth. The worst, he said, is all the rest.
I acknowledge that there are many, many problems in this country. Some of them will probably never be solved. Some things that our country has done bring great shame and embarrassment to me (Roe v. Wade being a prime example). What's more, it seems to be moving in the wrong direction, morally as well as otherwise. Still, there is no country in the world where I would rather live. There is no place where people enjoy more religous liberty and more freedom of speech (which is essential to religious liberty).
I am thankful to live in a country where I can freely practice the Orthodox faith. And I am thankful to the many millions of men and women, including my own father, who have sacrificed to establish and to preserve this freedom.
The USA is far from perfect. In spite of this, may God bless America! Happy (belated) Independence Day!