Wednesday, July 04, 2012

The Thing About Loyalty

Today, we are celebrating our country.  I have always felt blessed to have been born in the United States of  America.  I know our country has a lot of flaws, but I've also always known that there was a lot of good about being an American.  I also know that I had a lot of opportunities available to me simply based on my country of origin.  I am grateful that I am an American.  I feel loyal toward the United States of America!

Loyalty is a good thing, right? Whether it be family loyalty, school spirit or national patriotism, it seems humans have a need to be proud of something bigger than themselves.  It gives us a sense of "belonging".  Perhaps it makes us feel special, maybe even protected and secure.  I think there is a lot of good that comes from that.  Loyalty helps us work together toward common goals.  

For some reason, though, we humans have a hard time being loyal while still seeing the big picture.  Somewhere along the way I realized that feeling loyal toward one group led me to feel that other groups were inferior or maybe even a bit evil.  Oh come on, don't judge me!  You've probably done it as well.  Maybe you come to feel loyalty toward a sports team and then feel obligated to dislike fans of an opponent team.  Perhaps you love the state where you live and laugh when others make disdainful jokes about the idiots from the next state.  In Montana I heard North Dakota jokes.  In New Mexico I heard people making rude comments about Texans.  Here in Wyoming I hear people making blanket negative statements about people from Colorado.

Do you see where I am going with this?  We seem to draw circles around ourselves and see those outside the circle as "others", not as potential friends.  Our circles may be based on country, age, race, religion, financial status, what side of town we live in, what team we cheer for, the list is unending.  Why do we do that?  It is so limiting.

So, today I am celebrating being an American.  I am so grateful for the freedoms I have and the opportunities made available to me through the efforts of others before me.  I am feeling proud of all that is good about our country.  Even so, I am going to make the effort to notice outside that circle, to see the goodness in "others" because ultimately my loyalty belongs much higher than to just this one country.  

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