Dear America – A Message of Concern

by CSW Director Rob Field

July 4, 2023

Dear America,

On your birthday, I want to tell you that I really do love you. There’s no other country for me.

But I have have something else to tell you, and I think Independence Day is probably the right time to get it off my chest. Here’s what I need to say: some of your citizens are moving us further and further away from the ideals that brought you into being 247 years ago. I think it’s time to be honest about this, and to re-think what we mean by “patriotism.”

If being a patriot means loving my country, I am all in. But if someone were to tell me that love of country means I should never offer any form of constructive criticism, I’d have to confess that I have a very different understanding of what it means to be an American and a patriot. If your own mother were doing something you knew was profoundly wrong headed, would it be “loving” to pretend otherwise and never bring it to her attention? That doesn’t sound like love to me.

My lament springs from a deeply spiritual concern: the animating spirit of our country and, indeed, the fate of our nation are both at risk. The founders of the United States made a decisive break from England because they had serious misgivings about its leaders and its laws. Our founders channeled their misgivings into a new form of government and left behind what they could no longer support. They wanted freedom from the tyranny of despotic rulers and the injustices they perpetuated. These ancestors of ours had a vision of giving voice and vote to everyone — still an astonishing and beautiful idea, even though it took 200 years to fulfill. Since the time of your founding, America, this ideal has been a beacon of light and hope for millions of people for more than two centuries. But I’m now wondering if we’re starting to forget your founding legacy.

I want you to know I’m saying this out of deep love and profound respect. Some powerful people in our nation are actively turning away from constitutional democracy towards a new form of authoritarianism that might open the door to despotism if we don’t prevent them from having their way with you. They want to concentrate authority in their own hands and disenfranchise many of your citizens. These are extremely wealthy and power-hungry people — people who can’t possibly love you, because they can’t fathom the ideals that led to your birth in 1776. They want to amass still more power and wealth to further their selfish interests, willfully ignoring the common good. That’s not love, it’s just unbridled egotism and greed.

I do love you, America. But I am also worried about you. My message probably isn’t the birthday present you were hoping for, but I believe love and honesty are the best things to offer you in these troubled times.




photo credit: Canva