Viewpoints is a SpokaneFāVS feature where our writers respond to a weekly question. Readers are invited to participate by posting in the comment section below.
With election day around the corner, we felt it was an appropriate time to talk about patriotism.
This week’s Viewpoints question is:
What is the role of nationalism and patriotism in your life in relation to your faith perspective?
A couple of FāVS writers responded with the following answers.
I think being a good patriot is part of being a virtuous person on the whole.
Neal Schindler: Healthy skeptic hoping for positive change
To me, patriotism means maintaining a healthy skepticism, and a hunger for positive change, about nearly everything related to one’s country, including patriotism itself! In my family patriotism has never meant uncritical allegiance to the U.S., or any other country. I may feel this way because I spent a portion of my childhood in Germany. This led me to believe that every country, like every person, has its flaws and its virtues. American exceptionalism — the idea that the U.S. is the best country on Earth because, y’know, ‘murica — doesn’t make sense to me. I am proud of my country sometimes and ashamed at others. Like most Americans, I imagine, I spend the majority of my time somewhere in between, trying to understand the problems and wondering what I can do to make a positive difference.
I was thrilled with the U.S. when same-sex marriage became legal nationwide; I am appalled at the ongoing epidemic of shootings of unarmed black people by police. This is a big, strange, complicated country, and I believe that a highly dynamic mix of thoughts and feelings is a very reasonable response to such a place. I’d add that just as I don’t see contemporary Jews as God’s chosen people, any more than anybody else is chosen, I don’t see the U.S. as God’s chosen nation. God either wants the best for all people — I’d say all living beings — or for none. I don’t think any divine being is waving a flag with a particular pattern on it.
A native of Detroit, Neal Schindler has lived in the Pacific Northwest since 2002. He has held staff positions at Seattle Weekly and The Seattle Times and was a freelance writer for Jew-ish.com from 2007 to 2011. Schindler was raised in a Reconstructionist Jewish congregation and is now a member of Spokane’s Reform congregation, Emanu-El. He is the director of Spokane Area Jewish Family Services. His interests include movies, Scrabble, and indie rock. He lives with his wife, son, and two cats in West Central Spokane.