I Don’t Think I’m a Good “American”

“Proud to be an American” is a sentiment I never really felt nor really uttered.

“Grateful to live in America?” Yes. “Thankful to be a citizen?” Most def. But proud? I don’t know.

I mean, during world events, like the World Cup, I’m heavily invested in how the South Korean team does more than what Team USA does.

I think part of it may have to do with the fact that I was never led to feel I was “American.” Growing up, I was led to believe that Americans were ‘white’ and since I wasn’t white, which people went out of their way to point out (I mean, dude, I don’t need you to remind me that I’m not white…), I was not American.

When someone asks me “Where are you from?” They’re not really satisfied with my answer.

“I’m from Hawaii.”

“Oh. Did you live anywhere before that?”

“Yea. I used to live in California before Hawaii.”

“Oh. So… were you born in California, or did you move to California?”

“Oh, we moved to California when I was like in 6th grade.”

“I see. Where did you move from?”

“South Carolina.”

And it becomes a fun game for me, because I know they want to know where my motherland is.

If I were viewed as “American,” I feel that the answer of Hawaii or California should suffice. But, it was very evident, throughout my life at least, that I was something dash American. Korean-American. Asian-American. Never just American.

But I think I can say that I am proud of my heritage. So much so, I worry how un-Korean my children will be because I am so Americanized. I want to keep our heritage (and language) alive through generations to come.

Oh, and I own a Korean flag somewhere in my home, but I have never owned an American flag.

This is where some people will start shouting, “Well, go back to your country then!” Right.

So, I think, more than not, this plays in to what bothers me when Americans try to claim God as their own. I think one of the more offensive images I’ve seen of Jesus was Jesus ascending (descending?) to (from) heaven with an American flag draped around him (not the image shown above). I don’t know who the artist loved more: Christ or ‘Merica. And also, why I get really annoyed when Jesus becomes about “truth, justice and the American way.” Which, by the way, is a motto attributed to Superman, not Jesus.

I don’t know how else to say this, but Jesus is not American. And God does not belong to America. I hate to break it to you, Americans aren’t God’s ‘chosen’ people. And to further upset a few: to some Americans, Jesus’ real skin tone was probably a lot darker than they wished it were, because Jesus ain’t white.

Therefore, I always wondered why the American flag had to be present in our sanctuaries throughout our country. And always wondered if other countries have their flags in their sanctuaries.

I mean, we live in a smaller world, meaning that, we have more cultures and countries represented in our pews today than ever before. With technology and the Internet, we are more connected than ever before. And with the melting pot that America is becoming, there are more than just “Americans” present in worship. I’ve always felt that we either have all flags of the world or no flags displayed in our sanctuaries across America.

God is bigger than America. We are doing a sinful thing if we try to contain God within our borders and make him American. We, then, are no longer the created, but become the creator, as we have re-created God’s image after our own.

God’s blessings goes further than America. Yes, God bless America. But, man, America’s been blessed. That’s why regardless of what you may have gathered, I am grateful and thankful that I live in the US of A.

But, when do we start asking, How can America bless God?

Remember, Abraham was blessed to be a blessing to others.

I believe that we are blessed to be a blessing to others and God as well, both individually and collectively, as a nation.

God’s love and grace has no boundaries or borders. It is not limited to one group of people or one country. Christ died for all and loves all. And all means all.

If that makes me unpatriotic and un-American, I can live with that. I’ve been called far worse.

4 thoughts on “I Don’t Think I’m a Good “American”

  1. Brother,

    I agree with you that God is bigger than America, and that America has been blessed to bless other countries. May God continue to bless America in order to continue blessing other countries. However, I disagree with you to a certain extent about not having the United States flag in our sanctuaries. A church should not have to be forced to have a U.S. flag in their sanctuary, but you shouldn’t see it as a negative thing if a church does have a U.S. flag, even the state’s flag, and not every countries flag in their sanctuary. We are in the United States after all. Yes there plenty of nationalities in our pews/seats, but we are in this country. By no means am I saying that it’s a bad idea to have the flags that represent all the countries of the world in the sanctuary. In fact, I think that’s a good idea. All I am saying is don’t be upset if a church only has the Christian, U.S., and State flag in their sanctuary.

    By and by, I was born in Guatemala. My mother brought me to this country when I was a year and a half old. She traveled from Guatemala through Mexico without a visa to bring me here for a reason much higher than just “the American Dream”. God, that is, has/had a plan for us in this country. I find myself always rooting for this country. May the Lord continue to bless it so that it may bless Guatemala, South Korea, and other countries.

    PS. Forgive me if I misunderstood you brother.

  2. The fact that you speak about American’s as if you are not one of us tells me all I need to know. I have higher hopes for your children. My Tang Soo Do instructor became a citizen and proudly displays an American flag in his do jang along with a Korean flag. He is proud to be an American and he grew up in Korea. Maybe it is time you start saying we Americans instead of you Americans.

    1. 1) I didn’t say “you Americans” anywhere in the post. At least I don’t think I did. I did say that we need to realize that God is bigger than America, which was the heart of the post, whether it was clear or not.
      2) I knew many TKD instructors who felt that if they didn’t have the American flag present, they would not get business, so for a few, it was obligation for business more than pride.
      3) I think we have different definitions of “proud.” I’m very grateful to be an American. I’m grateful to be in such a country where I can express my thoughts. Some people would say that’s being a proud American… as Darius commented, I’d rather be a good and great Christian first and foremost and then be a good and great citizen of this country.

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