America … No, I Won’t Love it Or Leave It
Jennifer Keller Puebla
The whole “not my president” or “he’s still your president” argument is nothing new. It happens every time we have an election. Democrats say it about Republicans and Republicans say it about Democrats. Someday maybe they will both be saying it about someone else.
Ronald Reagan is probably the closest we’ve come to not hearing it during a term in office but there were still some people who felt Reagan did not serve their best interests.
The President is “the” president but if he is not representing you or your ideals then it’s reasonable you would think he is not “your” president. There is nothing un American about expressing this.
“To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.”
– Theodore Roosevelt
But some speech is un American. Saying things like “this is MY country” or “get out of MY country” are invariably uttered by people who think that this nation exists only to serve their personal ideology and those who share it. It’s their way or the highway. They use it toward other races, other religions, other ethnicities, and other political affiliations.
Anyone who will not comply to their beliefs or way of thinking can just “get out.”
The original settlers came to escape that very mindset. “You will do and believe what I tell you to do and believe just the way I tell you to do it and believe it or else!” They “got out” of their countries and escaped to a new land that promised freedom from such tyranny. They built this Nation, not perfectly but with these freedoms in mind.
We have founding documents that give an outline of what our country was to be for all the people who came here whether they wished to become citizens or not. Many Founders struggled to go even further and spoke against slavery as well though they were unfortunately overruled.
These documents make the very notion of saying “get out of MY country” ridiculous. To take a “love it or leave it” stand is to hate the Constitution and the ideals for which America was founded.
And though the Founders were far from perfect they understood and embraced the concept of individual freedom within the social structure of their time. With humility they recognized they couldn’t possibly have thought of every eventuality and so they also provided avenues for change.
It was never “our way or the highway.” Never was it “get out of my country.” It was always “Welcome! These are the laws we have here. Don’t break them. If you think they should be changed this is how you can do it.” At which point it was up to the people as an assembly to either change or not.
If you don’t like that some laws have changed then you are perfectly within your rights to work to assemble enough people to change them back. And then others can change them again and so it goes.
What’s crazy is that it’s Christians more often that get all this so very wrong. And so incredibly in opposition to Scripture. The very people who are quickest to call this a “Christian” nation are being neither obedient to their faith nor their professed love for our foundation. (9 times out of 10 it comes down to $$ but that is a subject unto itself.)
Immigration is one of the most blatant cases where this occurs and where “love it or leave it” becomes “go back to where you came from.” Scripture, which the Founders were familiar with, has many things to say about the treatment of foreigners and immigrants. One example is:
“When a sojourner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The sojourner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God.” Leviticus 19:33-34
People try to say sojourner meant visitor but Egypt is listed as the example of Israel’s sojourning experience and the Israelites were in Egypt for over 400 years. Nearly twice as long as this country is old. Obviously, God wasn’t talking about those on an extended vacation or work visa.
Fast forward from our founding to 2019 and we have children in concentration camps without proper food or sanitation all because their parent(s) crossed a borderline we laid across stolen land to try to make a better life for them.
We are keeping adults in over crowded kennels because they need work, a home, and want to go to sleep in the belief they probably won’t be murdered during the night by government agents in the bloody Northern Triangle or the soldiers of drug lords.
We have a “leader” calling White Supremacists “very fine people” and telling American Congresswomen, born and naturalized citizens, to “go back” to where he assumes they are from because they are women of color. He whips his supporters up with racist and bigoted speech until they are incited to chant “send her back” because they believe the lies he tells about them.
Because they want to believe them. Because they think “this is MY country” and you look and think and pray differently than I do.
News flash: This is our country. And we all think differently and want different things. Each person has their own priorities, passions, and goals. If you think everyone should fit into your cookie cutter of what an American is, then you are the one being un American.
You don’t own America. The People own America.
That includes the People you don’t like. That includes the People you hate. It includes anyone the Founders would have let come in and say “I wish to be an American and so here I am.” It even includes those People the Founders allowed to just freely “come” to live, work, and play without becoming a citizen.
The Founders gave them rights under our Constitution as well. Just as scripture commands.
Real Americans tolerate few things less than attempts toward authoritarianism. We were born as a country which fights against the subjugation of mind, body, and spirit and we will never stop fighting.
We will fight for ourselves and for our neighbor, for our future and our children’s future supported by our faith even at it’s weakest and inspired by our past even though tarnished.
We aren’t going anywhere. And we outnumber you.
It’s you, the bigots, the racists, the theocrats, and the hateful, who will not replace us.