So I keep chasing the idea of community. I'm pretty well convinced that the pursuit of individual fulfillment is inimical to community: even while I seek to do that which is fullfilling and significant. I see also a basic problem with the anti-authority binge baby boomers (me!) did so well. (I took a personality test on the Piaget-Kohlberg stuff once: scored as making decisions on principle, rather than legalistically: felt really good about it! Then the test asked one last question, which revealed that at least some of my oh so principled choices were actually just a manifestation of my distrust for authority. Ouch!)
So, along with a life lived protesting government actions and the seemingly arbitrary decisions of church and business authorities (to name only three sources of dissent), I find myself arguing that we need the community that come from patriotism and school spirit and general commitment to the larger group.
Are there any conditions? Should we just commit to the larger group and then look for the utopia to follow? We need at least one larger commitment: to the human family. As a Christian I subsume this commitment within my commitment to God; but speaking in purely human terms, speaking simply as a person regardless of religious commitment, that person who does not have a fundamental commitment to the good of the whole human family is dangerous indeed.
The point is obvious. If allegiance to a school (since I have been writing about school spirit) were to run so unchecked as to take priority over allegiance to our country, we would recognize it as flawed. If in the name of Penn State one were to fight, and even seek to destroy, supporters and alumni of Pitt, the police would step in and the courts would take away one's freedom.
Speaking as a member of the worldwide community, we have come dangerously close as Americans to acting like such deranged Penn State fans, except with bigger weapons. Perhaps that sense of caution that is so typically Canadian is a necessary ingredient for a truly good patriotism to flourish. I love the USA, and I love Canada: but I love both as part of the whole human family. I call my country to account when we step outside the bounds of being good members of the international community because I love my country, and because it is mine.
In short, to realize community at home, within the context of my larger political community, in the country that is mine own, I am a citizen of earth; I am part of the human family. I am also, and even more deeply, a citizen of Heaven, and believe that only as a citizen of heaven can I truly love my country rightly.