Yesterday, my pastor shared with the congregation some rather disconcerting statistics in response to the following question: What would the average American do for two million dollars? As you can imagine, people will do some crazy things for money, but one particular comparison made me shake my head in befuddlement at the state of our society.
According to the survey, 25% of Americans would abandon their entire family for two million dollars. Shocking, right? Hm, perhaps. Sadly, perhaps not. But here’s the kicker: only 16% of Americans would give up their citizenship for two million dollars. That means that for a good portion of participants in the survey, a piece of paper declaring that they belong to the great nation of the United States is more important to them than their families. Their spouses, their parents, their children, mean less to them than their citizenship. Now that, to me, was shocking.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I see nothing wrong with Patriotism. But isn’t that taking things a bit too far? I’ve always been grateful for my country, my state, my town, and the freedom I have as an American, but all of those things combined could never take the place of my love for my family. Land, government, the Constitution… those things will never mean more important to me than people. The reason those things are important in the first place is because of people. The reason we value our Constitution is because we value people, and we know that they deserve to have freedom, to be treated justly and with equality. Our government is created of the people, by the people, and for the people. Take away the people, and government is meaningless. Citizenship is meaningless.
There are many things I could say about the ignorant arrogance of some hard-core Patriotism, failing to see the faults in our government, placing themselves above others simply because they had the luck to be born in a privileged country, but I’ll leave that conversation for another time. The thing that made my heart cringe after hearing these statistics was the sad truth that our priorities are majorly screwed up. If we care more about our own privilige than the good of others, something is wrong. If we care more about citizenship than the people in our lives whom we love, something is wrong. If we are more easily willing to give up our families than our citizenship, something is surely wrong.