The Man Who Hated His Country
Once upon a time, there were two men who attended university together. They became great friends, but as their college years drew to a close, each man developed very different views on the country they shared. One loved his country with all his heart, the other hated it. Because of their drastically opposing views, they drifted apart after graduation.
Some fifty years later, fate would bring them together once again. Now in their seventies, they both unwittingly chose the same town to retire in, and without either of them knowing it.
One day, they happened upon each other at a local coffee shop. Once they got passed the surprise, they caught up over some hot brew. After a brief discussion, they soon discovered that they had no intentions of again becoming friends. For each man had maintained their respective ideologies, and had no intentions of changing. So the two men went about their day.
A local reporter found out about the two men and their shared past, along with their opposing ideologies. She marveled at the odds of them ending up in the same small town after all these years. So, she set out to interview the two men.
As the reporter tracked the men down and learned more about their story, she discovered just how different their views were. Then, she had an idea. She asked each man if they would be willing to debate each other publicly. Excited at the chance, they each accepted.
Excited about the opportunity for herself, the reporter wanted to milk this opportunity for all it was worth. She wanted sparks to fly. Anger to flair and egos to soar. For the more outrageous things got, the more attention the debate would get, and the more attention she would get as a reporter.
She didn’t care who was right or wrong. The entertainment value and her own “ratings” were all that mattered. As expected, word got out, and hundreds of locals came to see the spectacle of these two going at it in front of a live audience.
Several judges were asked to oversee the debate. And the winner would be determined by who was most convincing in their argument, and who best lived out their respective ideology.
The first man to speak went on about the many things he loved about the country, it’s amazing constitution along with limitless opportunities for everyone. For evidence, he cited his own speeches about his love for the country’s way of life, his support for law enforcement and his achievement of never having committed a crime. He also told everyone that we should leave the past behind, and only look forward, and be grateful for how far we had come as a nation. With tepid applause, the man sat down.
The second speaker left little doubt that he hated his country, and with great passion. He cited his own activism to demonstrate his hatred. He provided details about the protests he had joined over the years, the rioting he was a part of and the crimes he gladly committed, minus any incriminating details of course. He bragged about working through the legal system to incriminate the “self-righteous do-gooders” who were elected to office, regardless of whether they we’re actually guilty or not.
He also bragged about defying the police at every chance, ignoring traffic tickets and thumbing his nose at authority with pride. He went on about the time he created a scene the local PTA, once at a local city council meeting and the protests he organized outside the governor’s mansion. And he couldn’t wait to defund the police. “Who needs them anyway?” he yelled at the crowd. To a passionate applause, he sat down.
When the two men finished the debate, the judges met in private chambers to consider their findings. Surprisingly, they deliberated for just a few minutes. Suddenly, they came back with their decision; the winner was the man who hated his country.
For his prize, he was awarded a trophy, an op-ed in the local newspaper and a spot on the local morning show. Many in the audience again applauded, some gasped. One woman vomited.
The man who loved his country was shocked, and bemoaned the fact that this “criminal” had won. The man who hated his country was equally shocked, he was convinced the debate was rigged against him, and that all the “self-righteous” would come out in unison against him. The audience was equally confused, because so many quietly liked the speech on love and support of country. So, the judges offered an open forum after the debate to discuss and explain their findings.
Both contestants showed up for the forum, along with the reporter and many of the attendees. The man who loved his country complained to the judges that his way was right for the country, and that love is always the answer. And many agreed. He went on to say that the man who won had no respect for authority, law and order, and had carried out nothing but mayhem in the streets. “How could you reward such an individual?” he asked with disdain.
Meanwhile, the reporter sat there in glee, soaking up the delicious friction that filled air, which smelled a lot like a soon coming promotion. For word had already spread throughout the whole town.
After all the questions and complaints were expressed, the room fell silent. The head judge scanned the room with loathing eyes and furrowed brow, and waited for everyone’s attention. Finally, the judge spoke. He explained that the contest was not about who was right or wrong, or even who they agreed with. Rather, who was the most convincing in their argument, and who offered the most evidence that they really believed and lived out their given ideology.
The judges went on to say that the man who loved his country mostly showed it in his speeches and emotional expressions. He had good intent, but offered very little evidence or follow through.
On the other hand, the man who hated his country was a man of action. A true activist with little reservation of getting involved and being a part of the change he wanted to bring about. Therefore, the convincing evidence was in mostly what he had carried out over the last fifty years, however wrong or criminal it might have been. Many in the audience remained angry and confused at the outcome.
The man who loved his country sat with his head hung low. He couldn’t look a single soul in the eye. He thought to himself how the judge was right. For he realized that much of his love for his country, however sincere, lacked any real concrete proof or follow-through. While sitting there, he remembered all the times he had a chance to run for office, volunteer at a local charity and spend time with troubled youth, mow his neighbor’s lawn, etc. But, just couldn’t find the time. His 18-hour workdays just didn’t allow for such volunteerism. He left that day with great sadness filling his heart.
The man who hated his country also struggled to keep his chin up and find any gratification in this whole charade. As he held his trophy, he pondered all that he had just bragged about. He couldn’t stop thinking about all the innocent people he slandered, the personal property he destroyed, all the good people he brought down, questionable lawsuits, all because he didn’t like what they believed. Then, a deep sadness set in. The more he thought about it, the more he began to feel the very pain that he had spent years inflicting on others. He too left sad, and no longer clutching his trophy. He left it on a chair as he was walking out.
The reporter was not exactly aglow either. In fact, she began to wax reflective. She couldn’t quite make heads or tails of everything that had just occurred, and her hopes of a boosted career suddenly felt anti-climactic, and surprisingly self-centered.
In addition, she could not stop thinking about all that had been said, by both sides, and by the judge. The odd thing was, she found agreement with parts of both ideologies.
She conceded that she too loved her country, but that love is best evidenced by the way we live out our lives. And she acknowledged that there are problems with our country, some things we could do better, but that any change should come from a place of gratefulness and acceptance for the country we have the privilege of living and thriving in. And she had the powerful thought that to only run one’s own country down, is to run yourself down.
As a reporter, she made a pact with herself and her God to print the truth as she saw it, regardless of which political party it hurt, or helped. And she vowed the never slander anyone personally, fudge the “facts” to fit some narrative or stray from what she felt was factual. “I have a job to do” she told herself. “and that’s to objectively bring the story to the public. I’m not a politician, I’m not judge and jury, I’m a journalist” she reminded herself.
From that time on, the reporter found new ways to love her country, but in action. To see its beauty both in its current glory as well as its flawed past. And without passing judgement on those who had gone before her. She remembered that she too is a sinner, and had no right to pass judgement on anyone, including those who lived in a different time.
From then on, when she saw a problem or felt like complaining, she looked for ways to step into the problem and become a part of the solution. She finally understood that those who hate the country are blind to its good, and those who love their country can see both its good, and the areas it can do better.
While having dinner with a fellow journalist, she stated “any fool can be a critic, but only those who love their country can find ways to improve it. Any fool can tear something down, but only the wise can build a better tomorrow. Only the self-absorbed seek to divide, but it takes selflessness and hard work to bring people together and make a better country.” Her friend agreed.
America is great not only because we allow for our differences, but because we celebrate our oneness. We’re all Americans, regardless of where we are from, or our varying points of view. In that spirit, we find a way to work together and continue to love the country our God has entrusted us with.