"This I Believe" Essay Contest Winner Anne Waldrop
Murray, KY – "God Bless America?" I believe "God Bless the World." We Americans frequently diminish our world to only the United States. In this vast world, we often ignore other countries and cultures. Our myopic culture blinds us and we fail to see our global role and responsibility. Counterfeit patriotism, superficial media, and civil religion seduce Americans into limited, inadequate views of a broader world. Our jingoism currently overshadows our historic principles. I have learned to aspire for the grandeur of worldwide citizenship.
Our nation thrives from sea to shining sea our opportunities endless, our bravery undeniable. I remain a proud patriot of my country. However, new, shortsighted definitions of patriotism arise. Are we too arrogant to comprehend that as we love our country, millions of others, in other lands, cherish theirs? Self-centered patriotism yields undue misunderstanding and discrimination. Exclusivity is not a prerequisite to patriotism. Intolerant bumper stickers and ubiquitous flag lapel pins serve to inundate us with a shallow patriotism. Citizens of the United States must free themselves of this false patriotism in order to honor and respect human capacities in every place.
Ignorance is not bliss. News media function to enlighten us with noteworthy information. Yet, rarely do we challenge the spoon-fed, daily bombardment of inane information. Why do news clips of Britney's rehab or celeb-reality dominate? Insulting our intelligence, the media serves to dumb us down as a nation. International news now resides at our fingertips. Conversely, American media conglomerates operate unmindful to the dozens of wars now waged throughout the world and the thousands of international innocents who die of hunger or health ailments with remedies. Newspapers feed us with a number of stories each day attempting to make us informed citizens, though international news is often limited to page eight below the fold. In the United States, the media does not often encourage us to act as citizens of the world.
Organized religion can subtly advocate an obsession with America. In many houses of worship, one can find a prominent American flag, which tempts us to nationalize religious allegiances. Paradoxically, a number of congregations practice a morose ethnocentrism that refutes the universality of the religion's message. The Judeo-Christian faith outlines that God blesses the whole world. Which chapter and verse call for restrictions on God's grace? We are tempted to fight childishly over the love of God like siblings for a parent's affection. I refuse to divorce the world for the love of my country.
In perceiving the whole world, I believe we identify that we are but a piece of the puzzle that is the earth. All too often our republic notices only one piece of the earth's puzzle. Imagine the possibilities when looking at the whole picture the puzzle gives us! The world is not big enough for small thinking.
I will recognize a fellow citizen of the world when I hear a political speech close with, "God Bless the World! And may the United States of America be an instrument of that blessing."