Join with me now in a new movement, and help me make an old bumper sticker obsolete. I understand the sentiment (sort of) but take issue with “God Bless America”. Not the song, although it shares the same negative issue as the slogan. No, it is the slogan, which totally ignores the fact that any God to whom you wish to ascribe such powers already blesses America. Abundantly.
Take a look around. We have resources still despite trying our best to squander them. We have beautiful lands everywhere “from the mountains to the prairies to the oceans white with foam”. We have amazing people, who are trying their best to improve the world one whatever at a time – a smile, a loan, a hand, a purr, a meal, a thought, a plant, a home. We have the richest poor in the world, although the Bible notwithstanding we ought to be ashamed to have any. We are lucky to be here.
And what do we say?
Maybe the intent on the part of some who mouth this phrase has been more like “sanctify us”. Or “keep us close to You”. It comes off, fresh from the stickers on $20,000 cars, as the spoiled rich kid whining because he or she got less than expected for Christmas. Where is the thank you?
“If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.” said Meister Eckhart some time around 1300. That’s worth considering, certainly, although the saying of “thank you” can become as automatic as “bless us” and can lose any semblance of real thankfulness. I think we still should say thank you to each other and to ourselves and to the divine. We should also, on occasion, examine the phrase on a personal level and in the larger world as well, for the heartfelt and fundamental peace it brings to mind to truly count our blessings.
We may need healing.
We may need guidance. We may need knowledge. We may need empathy. We may need leadership. We may need awareness. We may need luck.
We are already blessed. So. A new sticker, perhaps?
God Blesses America
Okay, now there’s another bit – the America, of course. Any being worthy of Higher Power status is surely big enough to see a world without boundaries. If John Lennon can do it and Pete Seeger can do it, a true god should find it effortless. And if this god sees the world as a map in an atlas, with all the boundaries marked and people classifiable into “good” and “bad” based on their geography and cultural beliefs, I personally must question the worthiness of the divinity. The old religions are exclusionary by design. This does not mean any god out there believes that nonsense.
Let’s try again. God Blesses Us.
I like this. It says what I believe, with my usual caveats: If there is a god. If there is such thing as blessing. If we are all together.
Say it with me:
God blesses us!
May it always be so.