“The reason one’s country is more the neighbor than one’s community is that it is composed of a number of communities, so that love directed towards it is wider and higher. Moreover, loving one’s country is loving the well-being of the people. One’s country is the neighbor because it is a kind of parent; it is where one was born; it has fed and feeds one; it has protected and protects one from injury. One should do good to the country one loves according to its needs, some of which are natural, some spiritual. Natural needs are concerned with its secular life and order, spiritual ones with its spiritual life and order.
“There is a law engraved on the hearts of men that one’s country should be loved, not as a person loves himself, but more than oneself. This law commands, and this is what every righteous man declares, that if an enemy, or any other danger threatens one’s country with destruction, it is a noble act to die in its defense, and a soldier should take pride in shedding his blood for it. People say this because one’s country ought to be loved that dearly. It needs to be known that those who love their country and do good to it as the result of their good will, after death love the Lord’s kingdom, since this is then their country; and those who love the Lord’s kingdom love the Lord, because the Lord is all in all to His kingdom.” True Christian Religion n.414
Are you familiar with the last stanza of the “Star Spangled Banner”? Here it is:
Oh! thus be it e’er, when free men shall stand
Between their loved homes and the war’s desolation!
Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the heav’n-rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, for our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: “In God is our trust.”
And the star-spangled banner forever shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
What makes this powerful is that it calls to mind the basic premises of a good, and even spiritually based, civil life: freedom, home, peace, praise of God, trust in God, and bravery in the face of attack upon these principles. Our deepest desires as humans are all brought to the foreground. And they echo what we have learned from the Word about loving our country as our neighbor, and the sure hope in the perfection of the Lord’s kingdom, to which we all aspire.
I am sure I have as many complaints about the various governments in our country, from Township to Federal. And, like you, I know that high regard for the institution and respect for its officials is necessary for the general good. And yet I too find myself disappointed, frustrated and even angry at times. I want to pay attention to the source of my feelings, and the results of my expression of them. I want to seek to rise above the circumstances, and live by spiritual principles, such that all that I say and do will have a positive effect.
The Word tells us that discovering and implementing a deep regard for the Lord’s kingdom will lead me to a new state of being, in which I can actually make a positive contribution to the spiritual and natural health of my country. I look forward to learning more and more of those principles, and the skills that go with them.
Perhaps I’ll start with the jokes I make and that I laugh at. Perhaps it will be eliminating the complaining I do that is mere whining. Perhaps I will become politically active for a person or an issue. Perhaps I will stop arguing. In any case, the point is to live from a higher, spiritual principle, and seek to teach others by my words and actions how to love my country in preparation for loving the Lord’s kingdom.
Precursor July 2006