“God Bless America” has always bothered me. It has little to do with the fact that I’m an atheist and have no belief in gods, but because it feels like this statement is asking “God” to show preferential treatment to “America” (with most people meaning The United States, not the rest of the Americas). As a humanist, I don’t like that. If there is a god, I’d want him to bless the world, the universe, the multi-verses, not just America. Oh I consider myself a patriot: a global patriot.
“Patriot” is defined as a person “who loves, supports, and defends his or her country and its interests with devotion,” so perhaps I’m taking some liberties with the word. I extend my love and support past the borders of the United States, and I’m not alone in this thought process. There is actually a “Global Patriot Movement.”
The Global Patriot movement promotes the basic idea of patriotism without borders. Words commonly associated with patriotism include allegiance, dedication & loyalty, and in that light, the concept of being a Global Patriot is to be patriotic to the whole planet, not just one nation – an idea based on the notion of one planet, one people.
We’re living in a unique time, at the nexus of human rights and sustainability, where problems associated with hunger and poverty, equal rights, education, social justice and climate change continue to frame our future. There are hundreds of thousands of organizations working around the globe on these issues.
What does it mean to be a Global Patriot? It requires me to focus my thoughts, words and actions on improving the health and well-being of the planet. I consider myself lucky to have been born in the United States at the time I was. I have access to more food than I could ever eat, clean water, sewage systems, air conditioning, the right to vote, access to adequate healthcare, etc. I am not unappreciative of the things I have, especially since someone else worked hard to build them and still others fight hard to protect them. I feel that everyone, worldwide, is equally as deserving regardless of race, gender, nationality, political organization, religious belief, personal ideology or landmass that they happened to have been born on.
My global patriotism is the reason I support initiatives like the Humanist Service Corps whose mission it is to “partner with organizations around the world to protect human rights and the environment.” HSC volunteers collaborate with locals to design and implement solutions that leverage available resources, thereby amplifying the impact each volunteer has and ensuring that impact is sustainable. Isn’t that beautiful?
So, that’s it. I’d love for the term “God Bless America” to be phased out. For the religious, on the off-chance there is a “God”, will you start asking him/her to bless the world instead?
A version of this was originally posted on Emilyhasbooks.