This past December, I became a U.S. citizen. After growing up in Canada and then living in the States for the past 12.5 years, I finally had the chance to take the oath and become a citizen of this great land. Here are a few thoughts on citizenship and related matters.
Proud to be an American
About a month ago, our family watch a 90’s film called Iron Will. The film is a typical underdog film that follows the story of a young man named Will Stoneman as he enters a 500-mile dogsled race in order to save the family farm in South Dakota following the sudden death of his father. The grueling race goes from Winnipeg, Manitoba to Saint Paul, Minnesota and is set in 1917 during the first World War. Over the course of the race, a newspaper reporter gets ahold of Stoneman’s story and it soon captures the national attention. With millions of fellow Americans behind him, Stoneman goes on to win the race in dramatic fashion.
There used to be tons of patriotic American movies just like this one. I am not exactly a movie buff, but I would suggest you would be hard pressed to find many movies of this genre in 2021. There has been quite a shift over the past twenty years and it would appear as though American pride is waning. I believe there are a number of reasons for this (which is way beyond the scope of this blog post), but a little patriotism is refreshing. There should be a sense of pride in your nation, be it America or some other nation.
My friend Steve asked me after I became an official U.S. citizen – how does it feel? Having lived and worked here for so long before becoming a citizen, the next day didn’t feel much different. I can say, however, that there was a sense of pride as I took the oath and walked forward to receive my certificate. Becoming a citizen wasn’t about security, status, employment opportunity or anything like that. Over the years, I have grown to love this country and now I am proud to be counted as one of her citizens.
When I wrote a blog post about my journey to US citizenship back in December, my good friend James Edel from Alberta, Canada wrote me an email:
“Daniel, Your theology has been so sound until now. Becoming a US citizen, that just does it! You are still expected to cheer for Canada over the USA in all hockey games including world jrs and Olympics but not including NHL and minor league games.
From, James Edel :)”
I burst out laughing after reading this. I assured James that my loyalties will never change when it comes to sports, and in particular hockey. When Canada defeated the US in the gold medal game of the 2010 Olympics (remember Sidney Crosby’s OT winner?), I jumped out of my seat for joy!
Just this past week I started watching a program on Amazon Prime, “Great Canadian Rivers.” It might sound boring to you, but it is a reflection of my ongoing love for Canada. To this day I still have a Canadian flag in my office and I will always be proud of my roots.
Everyone has an Accent
Let me set the record straight once and for all. Everyone has an accent! Not just Canadians, but everyone. Over the years people have commented on my accent and the funny way I pronounce certain words. More recently, people have commented on my lack of accent.
I remember back around 2009 talking to a young cocky guy from Washington State. He tried to make the argument that West Coast people were the only ones without an accent. His reasoning? Because that is where the media is centered, therefore they are the most balanced. I didn’t buy it, and you probably don’t either.
Wherever you go in this great land, you will find different shades of accents. People pronounce words in a variety of different ways, and that is true of every large country.
So yes, I have an accent, but so does everyone else.
America’s Rich History
I love studying American history! I am concerned, however, about the “revisionistic history” that has been flooding the public school system for decades and is rampant in the media. The cancel culture agenda is seeking to re-write America’s history from a whole new angle. Instead of liberty and freedom, the defining characteristic of the founding of this country was slavery and bondage – so we are told.
Let me ask, are we supposed to believe a culture that embraces the slaughter of innocent babies in the womb and “same sex marriage” the LGBTQ agenda, and all manner sin, evil, and wickedness (Romans 1:18-32) – is somehow objective? Are we supposed to believe that the radical left somehow possesses an enlightened understanding of American history?
As home educators, my wife and I are committed to teaching our children US history, Canadian history, and world history. It has been said countless times, “Those who forget their history are doomed to repeat her mistakes.” America’s history is far from perfect, but there is much we can learn from.
Voting is a Privilege
One rather obvious change in becoming a US citizen is that I can now vote. I don’t see voting as a right, but I do see it as a privilege and a way to participate in the whole political process. I am now a registered voter and look forward to voting for the first time in next month’s Pennsylvania Primary election.
The People are Great
I’m am not just saying this because my wife is from here, but generally speaking, American’s are fantastic people! I have been to 30 different States and I have mingled with people from all 50 states. Everywhere I go I encounter people that are down to earth, friendly, and hospitable. I would probably say this of any country (because I love people), but now given my experience I can say it with authority.
As Christians, we need to be careful that we don’t put too much pride and hope in our nation. Certainly, there is a place for patriotism, but “here we have no lasting city” (Hebrews 13:14). The kingdoms of this world, including America, will soon fade away in order to make way for the new heaven’s and the new earth.
I am now a dual citizen. I now have passports with two countries. You might be inclined to think; doesn’t that mean I have competing loyalties now? No, and here’s why. As a Christian, my loyalties lie elsewhere. The Bible says, “the Lord your God in your midst is a jealous God” (Deuteronomy 6:15). My identity is not fundamentally American or Canadian.
I am a Christian. I am an “elect exile” (1 Peter 1:1) passing through this world on my way to a better place.
Every believer can say along with the apostle Paul, “But our citizenship is in heaven and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body” (Philippians 3:20-21). How utterly depressing it would be to place your hopes upon this transient and cursed world! Instead, “Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God!” (Psalm 42:11).