On this July 3rd, I invite us all to use the powers of consciousness to identify the transcendent urge within human culture, sometimes interpreted as patriotism or nationalism—knowing that with the powers of consciousness we can magnify what is true in the awareness of humanity, while dismissing what is not.
There is this great urge to thrive as a people and carry on our lineage. Some are consciously aware that this comes from a transcendent place. The urge is not all about the nation or about the culture itself. It doesn’t originate from within the culture. The urge is born from a place that transcends culture.
I celebrate the true patriot—or, to use a word with a feminine cast, the true matriarch. I use these words as opposed to the word partisan. Merriam Webster’s definition of a partisan includes this:
A firm adherent to a party, faction, cause, or person,
especially: one exhibiting blind, prejudiced, and unreasoning allegiance
The origin of the word partisan is part. So a partisan is someone who has an undue loyalty to a part of the whole.
Where the transcendent is excluded, patriotism degenerates into partisanship—separation and factionalization—nation against nation, party against party, people against people. And so it goes until human culture breaks down. The transcendent brings an awareness of oneness—expressed uniquely through a culture, yes, but unifying all people.
These words are from the American Declaration of Independence.
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
I suspect that most readers of this blog are well aware of the flaws in that statement and the flaws in the men who made them—and they were all men.
Where are women here? “All men are created equal….” We are also acutely aware that, historically, they were talking about white men. In fact, forty-one of the fifty-six signers of the Declaration of Independence owned enslaved Black people.
Looking back at the process of spiritual evolution through history, it is easy to find the flaws of what went before, judging them by today’s standards. And yet we must also notice what was poking through human consciousness—an awareness of what transcends human consciousness and culture.
I was so interested to see the way they named the Divine. They spoke of the “Laws of Nature and Nature’s God” and the “Creator.” It seems that they wanted to be clear that they were not referencing the God of religion. They were referencing the real God.
There is a sense of the transcendent, empowering them and compelling them to find Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. We could deride their use of the word happiness. While we could notice the tendency in America and around the world to interpret happiness as something born out of self-obsession, we could also realize that it is the promise of a fulfillment of something beautiful and right for all humankind. We are here to know fulfillment and happiness. Not one person’s happiness at the expense of another, not human happiness at the planet’s expense, not a partisan or separate happiness—but a collective happiness.
I listen to a podcast by three women lawyers, Sisters in Law. This week they were considering American Independence Day and their feelings about it. The first one to share was a Black woman. She acknowledged the racist state in America at the time of the Declaration of Independence and the fact that it excluded people like her. She lamented the state of freedom for women in the United States in light of the recent Supreme Court decision overthrowing Roe vs. Wade. And they were all lamenting what happened on January 6th last year in this country, when the former president incited an armed insurrection that invaded our Capitol Building and attacked our system of government.
The first two of the three women on the podcast said they wouldn’t see any fireworks because they were so disillusioned with America.
Then the third woman, Joyce Vance, spoke. In essence, she said this: I am an American, a very patriotic American. And I will let no one take away my patriotism.
I think she knows something about the true nature of patriotism. It is not condoning the facts—what is. Patriotism is about what can be. It is about the potential of a nation. The true patriot holds that in their heart and lives for it—for their country, for their people, and ultimately for the world. The ultimate fulfillment of patriotism is global.
The Founding Fathers of the United States were aware of the global implications of the Declaration of Independence. George Washington said it this way:
Our cause is noble; it is the cause of mankind.
French General Marquis de Lafayette, who fought with the colonists in the Revolutionary War, said this:
The welfare of America is intimately bound up with the happiness of humanity.
In South Africa, Nelson Mandela did more than free a people or a nation, as monumental as that was. His courage, love, and forgiveness freed a world. He was a patriot for the world. And so it was with Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and Abraham Lincoln. And Queen Elizabeth is a queen for her country and Commonwealth and an inspiration to people worldwide.
These words are from Thomas Paine’s pamphlet The Crisis that George Washington had read to his troops just before crossing the Delaware:
These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.
How relevant to America today! Our system of government, and the vision behind this country, are threatened. This is no time for the sunshine patriot. It is not a time for the kind of patriot who proclaims love for their country for the benefits it gives to them, and then complains when the country disappoints them. This country—like all others—needs patriots who devote themselves to a vision of what it can be; patriots committed to letting that vision begin to be fulfilled now. Only so can the true promise of America, or any country, be preserved so that it may flourish and become all of what it was meant to be, beyond the vision of its founders.
Katharine Lee Bates was an American author and poet. In the summer of 1893, carried by wagons and mules, she reached the summit of Pikes Peak in southern Colorado. Looking at the surrounding mountains and plains, she was inspired to write the lyrics of America the Beautiful. It contains these words:
America! America! God mend thine every flaw….
May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness….
Here is an expression of patriotism that is not just lauding what is but also praises what may be. We are here to be that expression—in the midst of whatever is happening, in the little microcosm of the nation we inhabit, to fulfill that vision ourselves individually. We are here to find our life, liberty, and true happiness. And in finding it and claiming it for ourselves, find it for our country and the world.
This transcends our nation and culture as we know it. We live in a holographic universe. The essential nature of human experience is the same wherever it appears, just as our physical DNA is 99.9% the same from person to person.
Your victory is my victory, your joy is my joy, your freedom is my freedom. And your country is my country. I feel that with the countries I have visited. Part of my heart is in Cape Town. I feel it about England, where I have ancestral roots; and Norway, where I have visited numerous times now with Kari Bye. There, too, I have ancestral roots, as it turns out.
I feel the same about Australia, on the other side of the earth. There is a song they sing, “I am Australian,” written by one of the Seekers, Bruce Woodley, along with another Australian folk musician, Dobe Newton. These lyrics are from the first verse and refrain:
I’m a teller of stories
I’m a singer of songs
I am Albert Namatjira
And I paint the ghostly gums
I’m Clancy on his horse
I’m Ned Kelly on the run
I’m the one who waltzed Matilda
I am Australian
I’m the hot wind from the desert
I’m the black soil of the plains
I’m the mountains and the valleys
I’m the drought and flooding rains
I am the rock, I am the sky
The rivers when they run
The spirit of this great land
I am Australian
We are one, but we are many
And from all the lands on earth we come
We’ll share a dream and sing with one voice
“I am, you are, we are Australian”
I have sung that song many times in Australia and here at Sunrise Ranch. I have sung it with Australians and led them in singing it. And I cannot escape the meaning of the words as they apply to me. I am clearly not a citizen of Australia. Yet when I sing the words I am, you are, we are Australian, I know that I am. I know that we all are Australian.
The war in Ukraine has elevated our planetary citizenship. People worldwide are waving Ukrainian flags and wearing its blue and yellow. Who does not feel like they are Ukrainian? They are me; I am them. I am Ukrainian. As the world goes, and as my heredity goes, I probably have some heredity from there too. We live in a global melting pot, from a genetic standpoint. But the holographic nature of humanity is about something larger than that. When I am truly an American patriotic, I am a patriot for the world.
Jesus expressed the holographic nature of humanity this way:
Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren [or the least of these, my sisters], ye have done it unto me.
We are one; we are many. From all the lands on earth we come. We are one people. Why settle for the booby prize of partisanship and factionalization? In being a patriot for our own country, we can be a patriot for all countries and all people. We are a patriot for the world.
So many are awakening to the universality of our humanity—to the fact that while any are in chains, none are free. That includes literal chains, and there is slavery still in the world today. But it also includes chains of the spirit, which lead to physical slavery and all kinds of other human afflictions.
On this Independence Day, my patriotism is unabated. I know that true patriots are needed now more than ever. I am proud to be an American.
If I wave an American flag, it is not in support of the causes that people champion with the use of that flag, some of which are abhorrent to me. The flag is about the hope of America, the promise of America. And I will not be a sunshine patriot.
The word patriot has a masculine cast, which I don’t mind. But it is not the whole picture. There were the Founding Fathers of America. Were there no Founding Mothers? Every nation, every land, has its Founding Mothers—its matriarchs.
Emma Lazarus’ poem, The New Colossus, cast in bronze and mounted at the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor, gives voice to the spirit of the mother in America:
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
So good to celebrate what is breaking through our consciousness as awakening people, acknowledging that, like those who have gone before us, we do not evolve in an instant. We make no claims for ourselves as totally evolved human beings. But we are awakening, and we are evolving. We are becoming vividly aware of what transcends our culture, which is the basis for our oneness.
Let’s be patriots—not partisans.