Short Story – God Bless America
This week is actually a non fiction comedy piece I wrote for a political show last week. The piece was supposed to be about third-party politics and I didn’t want to bash third parties even though I’m not voting third-party this year.
I came up with this piece which was, surprisingly for me, not particularly partisan one way or the other. Instead, it is about one of my greatest pet peeves about American politics and America in general.
It’s fairly silly. I hope it makes you laugh or at least it doesn’t make you cry.
God Bless America.
In politics, at least the politics of the two major parties, God bless America is the default. Not only do all major political speeches end with this phrase, they must end with this phrase. Failure to say “god bless America” is perceived to be distinctly un-American.
Honestly, I think our request for God’s blessing is selfish. Why are we so special? We aren’t the largest country in the world. We aren’t the most populated country in the world. We aren’t even the richest country in the world.
That, by the way, is Qatar, a country so rich, it doesn’t even put a U after a Q. It’s just sitting there messing with the heads of every elementary school kid in America. And it can do that because of how much money it has.
So by most measuring sticks, we are not the best at anything.
Except for this: We are, it seems to me, the most smugly Christian country in the world.
Not the most Christian, by the way. That distinction is a tie between Vatican City and the Pitcairn Islands, both of which boast a population that is 100% Christian.
In America, though, we are super smug about being Christians. So much so that politicians have to make sure that they call down the blessings of God at the end of every speech they make. I don’t think god gives a shit about farm subsidies but, to be fair, he is god so I’d assume he’s at least read up on them.
We Americans think god gives a shit about farm subsidies. But only our AMERICAN farm subsidies. And god, obviously, gives a shit about AMERICAN universal health care. Depending on who you talk to, god loves it or hates it.
We think God is blessing America all over the place. At least we keep asking him to do it. He isn’t blessing California with rain or Detroit with something to replace the auto industry but we keep asking because someday, god might just deliver.
As an atheist, I’d love to see god out of politics. I don’t want god out of politics because I don’t believe in him, I just want him out of politics because we can’t seem to agree on what he wants. And he’s not telling.
He wants women to have the right to choose but he thinks abortion is killing babies. He thinks that homosexuals are an abomination but he also thinks that we should love everyone equally. He’s a huge proponent of lower taxes for the rich but he also thinks we should help the poor.
Honestly, I feel like god and America are involved in an abusive relationship where we keep asking god to bless us and he keeps not blessing us but suggests that he might bless us sometime in the future if we play our cards right.
No, not those cards. The other cards. The ones with the dolphins on them. Oh, wait, those cards are missing the king of hearts.
Never mind. We need to get a new deck of cards.
So I’m suggesting that, at least politically, it is time to break up with god. We can let him down easy. For the time being, his churches can still be tax exempt. We’ll leave “in god we trust” on the currency for now. We aren’t going to delete his number on our cell phone.
But we need to come up with something other than God bless America. Every time we go back to that phrase, god is going to call us up and say he misses us and we’re going to end up sleeping with him again. It’s a destructive cycle
It isn’t right, though, to identify a problem without also suggesting some solutions.
If we aren’t going to end every great political speech with God bless America, we need to come up with something better. I have a few ideas:
Rock on, America!
While I don’t think any of us really know what the verb “rock” is encouraging us to do, we can all agree that it has a generally positive connotation. Also, there’s Christian rock so American Christians can still feel smug if they want.
Make good choices, America!
This is vaguely encouraging, don’t you think? It makes no presumptions about what those choices are, it merely encourages us to make good ones. Further, it seems to assume that all of us Americans are capable of making good choices, in spite of all the evidence to the contrary.
Kind of obvious, I guess. Since speeches are already ending with what seems like an assumption that everyone in the country just sneezed, why not use an affirmation that means “good health?” I mean, all faiths can get behind that, can’t they? Even if it makes all of our candidates sound a little too much like Hitler?
What’s that on your shoulder, America?
I like this one because a candidate can end the speech, distract the audience, throw down some flash powder, and disappear! It kind of says “everything that preceded this moment was also an illusion.”
Get Busy Living or Get Busy Dying, America!
I put this in because I love The Shawshank Redemption and the rest of America should too.
It’s not the years, it’s the mileage, America!
And there’s my obligatory reference to Raiders of the Lost Ark.
I love rich people, America!
Too honest, right?
Thank you for coming, now please do some research before you blindly accept everything I just said, America!
Clearly the best choice. As such, we can all be 100% positive it will never happen.
This is all just brainstorming. Clearly we will need to engage in some sort of national debate to come up with the new saying that will convince us that politicians have our best interests at heart. I mean, I shouldn’t have to do this myself.
In the meantime, I think we need to realize that whether or not we believe in God, we should stop asking him to bless America. While we expect our leaders to smugly remind the world how much they love God, we don’t seem to expect them to do anything else with that love beyond altering science textbooks.
If we have to keep God in our speeches, though, I have one honest suggestion.
As we look around the world and realize that, basically, everyone else is as messed up as we are, maybe we need need to simply encourage our politicians to end their speeches by saying God Bless Everyone. Except Qatar. Fuck Qatar.