Sunday, November 9, 2008

Proud To Be An American

It was a big, big week -- both at home and abroad. First of all, Sophie is now using the toilet! For some reason, this milestone has been super-intimidating for me with each of our kids. Once we actually get into it, though, it goes so smoothly that I end up wondering what I was so worried about. Of course, the key both times has been Matt’s clever incentive program. (For anyone else out there who lives in dread of toilet training, I’ll describe his plan in another post.) Anyway, I’m so excited NOT to be changing poopy diapers on a daily basis anymore! Freedom comes in many forms…

And then, of course, Barack Obama won the American presidential election by a mega-margin. Woo-hoo! I’ve been rooting for him since that electrifying speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, and I couldn’t be happier.

On Wednesday, as soon as I could sit down at the computer, I watched the speeches online: McCain’s concession speech first, then Obama’s acceptance speech and then the speech President Bush gave from the White House garden. And I just want to say how impressed I am by the democratic process.

I’m so proud to be from a country where the politician who runs for president but isn’t chosen by the country concedes graciously, expressing respect and pledging support for the other guy. Where the guy who does win the election doesn’t gloat over his victory but says to the other candidate: I need your help. Where the current president congratulates the person who will take over his job in a matter of weeks and promises to go out of his way to make the transition a smooth one.

Unlike the power-struggle shenanigans that prevail in most other countries around the world, I’m impressed by the peaceful and grown-up way America transfers leadership every four or eight years. This is democracy in action, and it is beautiful.

My primary allegiance is as a citizen of God's kingdom, but this week I've been especially proud to be an American.

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(I won’t go into all the reasons I think Obama is the man for this moment in our country’s history, but among other things, the fact that he is a third-culture kid goes a long way with me. I'm not a TCK -- I grew up in America -- but I've lived outside the States for twelve of the past sixteen years, and one of the most enriching things for both my faith and my politics has been connecting with and worshipping alongside Christians from many other countries in the world. My views have come to reflect the world, including America, as seen through their eyes. My understanding of our role as Christians -- to be in the world but not of it -- resonates with the messages of groups like Christus Victor Ministries, Sojourners and the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity. Just in case anyone’s interested.)