With early Neanderthals and homo sapiens, there were no countries, no states, no cities, not even villages. They were simply inhabitants of Earth, living lives that satisfied their immediate needs while caring for the resources they were dependent upon for their survival. That eventually changed and people did band together into cities and countries, with allegiances to those places. They began to identify themselves with whatever city they lived in to such a degree that they would war against other cities they felt were against the interests of their city. As we know now those cities organized into countries and the wars grew more intense. There was some limited cooperation between countries but some became long time enemies involved in cold and/or hot wars. A couple of those wars were world wars where millions perished.
Nature knows of no such nationalistic boundaries or wars. When tundra swans fly from the Arctic to Washington state they have no awareness of the place name where they land, only that it is a place of warmer climate, more fresh water, and abundant food. When caribou cross over from Canada to Alaska they pass through no checkpoints or border crossings. And the swallows know not if they are in South America or Capistrano. Yes, we have seven continents on Earth, but it was only people who divided them into countries and states, and then chose common languages, customs, laws, and mission statements to unify them.
Well, few of these divisions have worked. Twenty five hundred years ago the Buddha preached to his followers that human beings were primarily motivated by greed, hatred, and delusion, and that’s pretty much the case today, resulting in war, fear, suspicion, and human-caused despoiling of Earth’s atmosphere, oceans, rivers, forests, and air. As I write people on this planet are dying of hunger, thirst, and oppression from authoritarian governments. Greed, hatred and delusion still fuel the engines of ignorance and lies.
So, yes, I am an American, but my Jewish maternal grandparents came here from Russia in the early 20th century, giving up their identity with that country to come to another place, with courage, faith, and determination, where they could live in peace and raise a family. My Jewish paternal grandparents came from Russia and Germany for the same reasons just before WWI broke out. They perhaps heard of a place that proclaimed in their founding documents, “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution…” They wanted what their birth countries couldn’t and wouldn’t give them.
Now, I too, possessing the genes of my grandparents, want something of life that my birth country, the United States, has tried but couldn’t and wouldn’t give me: a national commitment to insure justice for all, a democracy that encourages all eligible to vote and not suppress that right to vote, domestic tranquillity that controls guns as well or better than it controls cars, civil rights as the Constitution dictates, reparations for the progeny of those abused and defamed in the slavery era, including Blacks and native Americans, thus securing the blessings of liberty, and…turning away from excessive profits to heal the natural environment of this planet that we have so degraded. A military-industrial complex that Eisenhower so wisely warned us of. McCarthyism. The assassinations of JFK and RFK and MLK. Corporate greed and power. The present-day aftermath of slavery still staining our nation in the form of white supremacy. The threat of nuclear war or meltdowns. Systemic racism. Gun violence. Anti-maskers and anti-vaxers and anti-honest educators. The obstructionist Mitch McConnell. The obstructionists Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema. The toxic insanity of QAnon. The hypocrisy of Mark Zuckerberg. The fake news of Fox News. Donald Trump and his Minions of insurrectionists, cultists, and, yes, ingenuous House and Senate GOP representatives. An ultra-conservative Supreme Court, made that way by Trump and McConnell. We are spinning, faster and faster, down a rabbit hole of no-return. Caught in a black hole of misinformation, myths, and lies, all of our own doing.
So, yes, I am American, but I am more a citizen of Earth and owe my allegiance to Earth, and devote all my remaining energies to the healing and preservation of Earth and all its oppressed people and abused environment. For the governing mission of Earth is to live and let live; to treat others–plants, wildlife, natural resources, and people–as we would like to be treated; to not judge, for in the same way we judge others, we will be judged; to find in every adversity the seed of an equal or greater benefit; to love our neighbors as we love ourselves; to truly consider the lilies of the field, and how they grow.
I declare myself an citizen of Earth, ready to call out those who degrade it. Care to join me?