I often wonder if people ever second-guess the norms we take for granted. The extremely patriotic concept of “God Bless America” isn’t inherently bad, but I really don’t think I’ve ever heard it referenced in any way that even remotely resembles something holy. If I were to translate it into an intuitively equivalent sentiment, it’d be a combination of “pride” and “patriotism” – sometimes there is even a competitive nature to it. If thats the message that God is receiving, I doubt any significant blessings are ever come as a result.
But the problem I have isn’t with the concept of asking for God’s blessing, its the fact that its being called on for America, as if America is the only one that deserves or needs it – or that America is an island that doesn’t care if anyone else needs blessings (as if other countries “can ask for their own blessings” were an appropriate belief).
Think about it, if all we cared about were ourselves and all we prayed for was ourselves… wouldn’t it be foolish and shortsighted for us to complain or be surprised or discontent to find that all the people around us were pretty unsavory? Well, it is basically what we’ve prayed for, after all. How many times have you said “God Bless Afghanistan”?
Turns out that in the few literal instructions God gave us, we were actually told to pray for (and bless) our enemies. The reasons are manifold and far more than just practical. But its good to know that every once and a while those commandments actually make a ton of practical sense too.