Yesterday being Memorial Day, many media sites and blogs were taking the opportunity to reflect on the state of the Union. And as you might imagine in our extremely politically polarized environment, uncommon men across the country are also using this time to ask themselves what it means to be an American these days. After more than a year—a year that carried with it, for example, absolutely record gun sales— the tone of this reflection is feeling a bit more like an existential crisis more than anything else.
And if recent scenes (both cringe-worthy and and grotesquely freakish) from our nation’s politicians are any indication, I can imagine the corporate media gave us its usual fare of platitudes and woke-approved talking points yesterday. Unfortunately, I don’t know for sure because I try like hell not to be exposed to any of its messaging at this point. But at least in Christian dissident circles, there is a growing sentiment that the United States has thrown much blood and treasure, not to noble or righteous purposes, but to arrive as one of the most monstrously evil and wickedly inverted empires in history. Think of it like our own modern Babel, decked out in pillaged, gaudy rhinestones; cheap foreign-made trinkets; and enough gore and oil to last until the end of the world.
Then there are the veterans I know. Over the decades, I’ve become friends with more than a few, some of which are the best men I’ve ever known. Bold and loyal to a fault and always ready to go the mile for others, these men have often suffered enduring ailments from their time being deployed. For one man, who has spent his life jumping into combat zones, his hearing is greatly dampened in one ear and he has continual spine issues, even after extensive surgery. For another man, he will spend his life in and out of VA centers for permanent disabilities acquired during intense battle.
Their sentiments about where we’ve arrived as a nation? None are positive, and none intend to continue their service. And while I can’t claim to be familiar with the historic cultural forces within the armed forces, you don’t have to have the gift of super intelligence to imagine how such thoughts and feelings play out long term. If these men represent the ultimate in our commitment to our nation’s union, it is quite telling that even they—or many of them, at least— no longer feel their actions have been just or for a moral cause, however pragmatic. But more than this, what it means and what it is representative of is indicative of something more fundamental.
You cannot discount the role of symbolism in where we’ve arrived as a nation. Or the unfathomable disparities of conduct, belief, and character which now exist in this most perfect union of states. In the case of our political and corporate figureheads, both local and national, you have an illustration of how much we’ve abandoned, not just in virtue, but sheer sanity as well. This is no better represented than by the obese, money-stuffed elite in our nation, who speak out of one side of their mouth about unity, and in the next, are destroying, very literally, the very fabric of communities, neighborhoods, and families.
Then you have the case of dissident Christians and the veterans of which I spoke earlier. In their lives, you find a symbolic language infused with notions of courage, faith, and above all, sacrifice. And so, it means when I see my friends who are veterans, I don’t simply see a man brought low by the struggles of war and bloodshed. Instead, I see a testament which embodies—deeply comes to stand for— duty and honor despite corruption. For my Christian friends, I don’t simply see men shrugging off the depravity of our times, but monumental pillars which epitomize— inspirationally come to be examples of— penance and righteousness undeterred by such evil. Yet in both of these groups, I see the exemplification of sacrifice that no longer seems to find a place in our once great tapestry; it has become little more than a foreign word.