July 4th Where Fireworks Were Invented

Having lived in China since I was eleven, I have the unique opportunity and privilege to see the world and my own country with a broader view. In both America and China, patriotism runs high in the majority of the population. Watching the 2008 Olympics with our local friends was quite an exciting affair. Each of us wanted our native country to win, but there was no great disappointment when the other nation prevailed since it was the home of our friends and our second home. 

Most of my family is in America right now, and it sent a small jolt of culture shock through my system to hear they went to church and had an America-centered service, focusing on how the country needed revival and singing patriotic songs in the place of worship music. 

To be honest with you, pretty much the only reason July 4th is even on my radar is because it is also the date of an aunt’s birthday. I had forgotten what a big deal it was to the millions back “home”. (Home is a fluid term for me.)

It’s not that I’m UNpatriotic, it’s just that  I see America – with all its virtues – has its faults and other countries – with all their faults – have their virtues. I don’t feel, as most do, that any one country is the best country on earth. Perhaps the most common question posed to me as a foreigner in China is, “Which do you think is better, America or China?” My standard answer is, “Both are good, they each have positive and negative parts.” My answer isn’t just diplomatic, it’s how I really feel. 

Living in China has its challenges, most notably the air pollution and internet restrictions, but it is a highly-developed highly convenient place to live and the people have certainly welcomed my family and I (to the extent that three of them married us!). 

Living in America has a different set of challenges such as church factions caused by denominational and style differences that barely exist in China and ever-present tensions between republicans and democrats and pro-abortionists and anti-abortionists and homosexuals and those who opposed gay relationships. I have my own stands on these issues, but I think it’s sad how social media has people at each other’s throats so often about those things. With all its flaws, communism seems to largely avoid tensions such as these. 

I am thankful for the relative freedom Americans have to speak what they think and worship how they wish. I am proud of the forefathers who sailed from their home expressly for that purpose and founded the United States on good principles. I am thankful to be born in a country that gives me a passport with which I can travel to many countries without a visa. My country granted me a native tongue that is spoken around the world. I am happy to be an American. 

BUT I will honor other countries with their differences and seek to learn from the good and the bad I find in the world. By God’s grace this will help me better understand my husband as well as others around me and hopefully impart the best of two countries to our future children. 

God bless America. God bless China. God bless the world. And God bless YOU! 

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