American patriotism has been stirred from a long nap. Unfortunately it required the cries of thousands to stir us from our collective slumber. Regardless, it is good to see many once self-centered Americans rallied to a greater cause. As a country we are re-examining our priorities and, more importantly, our faith.
Naval Commander Stephen Decatur once said in 1816, “Our country! In her intercourse with foreign nations, may she always be in the right; but our country, right or wrong.” Some would argue that he was one of the greatest American patriots. I have no doubt he loved this country, but his statement implies blind devotion, possibly a perilous disregard for righteousness. Patriotism manifested in blind devotion makes a fanatic. Notwithstanding their evil cause, even the hijackers were patriotic.
In 1872 Carl Schurz, U.S. general and senator, espoused a subtly different view of patriotism: “Our country right or wrong. When right, to be kept right; when wrong, to be put right.” Is our patriotism bad or good? It depends on whether it is accented by blind devotion, or seasoned with prayerful introspection for righteousness sake.
There is only one road, a toll road, to national righteousness. It is paved with the truth of God’s Word (John 17:17), and prepaid by Jesus Christ (Philippians 3:9). The foundation of true American patriotism should be the desire for our country to be right—one citizen at a time—with God.