Pulling up behind an old Subaru the other day, I noticed its bumper sticker: "I love my country, but I think we should start seeing other people." The bearded, paint-spattered driver got out just as I did, and was momentarily startled when I spoke to him, but smiled when I told him I liked the thought. I love those connections, those moments when I look eye to eye with someone and we suddenly both 'get' it, even as a hurrying past world rushes unconsciously by.
So, is it less patriotic to love all the people of this planet? To really believe that the disenfranchised, the lost and hurting in every nation have a right to water and food and health and safety, just as we do? Or do those rights stop at the borders of our country, at the edges of our constitution? In the gospel of Matthew, where I've been dwelling recently, there's that famous sheep and goat passage where Jesus says, "Whatever you sheep did to the least of these, you did to me... and whatever you goats didn't do, you didn't do to me!" And somehow, I have the sinking feeling that this nation, in this last administration with the policies of war and disinterest in helping the poor, is a giant super-goat.
And I can imagine what we could be--how we could spend our wealth for good, to help, to make the world, the earth, the poor, the homeless, the lost healthier; and how we might be 'blessed to be a blessing' as the saying goes, by doing that. How God would honor that, would change this country, this nation by the doing--this is how I dream of being patriotic. But in love with the whole world, too.