Day of rest. Went to church. The Sacrament meeting talks were on the birth of the United States and its role in the Restoration of the Gospel. One of the hymns was My Country 'Tis of Thee. I remembered some things. 2 Nephi 1:6 "there shall none come into this land save they shall be brought by the hand of the Lord". At the age of 16 while still living in the Soviet Union I had a strong feeling that I needed to learn English fast - my future would depend on it. Over the next three years I would study for 8 hours a day if I could find this much time. I practiced it at every opportunity. The entire time I never felt that I was learning a foreign language, but rather was learning a native language that was technically not native because I never learned it as a child. But it was nevertheless somehow native regardless. Later when I joined the LDS church and started reading the Book of Mormon, I began to understand why it was so. Our country is different in a special way. I wish we understood it better. It is not a reason to be arrogant, rather it is a reason to feel a strong sense of responsibility to keep the commandments of God, and to serve others.
Along with that I remembered my adventures in getting a US Visa. What a mess! And what an eye opener! An African American in the 50s was more privileged and less discriminated than a young man with a dream from a country with less developed economy and unstable political situation applying for a US student visa. "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free" on the Statue of Liberty not surprisingly is viewed in a way that is more or less similar to "we all need to eat healthy and exercise". A principle we theoretically admire and are anxious to preach from the pulpit but lack the grit to practice when initiative and sacrifice are required.
I also remembered the feeling of disappointment I experienced when I observed some people getting drunk on the 4th of July. I understand some people will take issue with this, and argue that there is nothing wrong with celebrating the American freedom this way. I used to argue back, including on this blog, but I think I am going to take a different approach. If you feel this way, go to the Lord in prayer and asking to show you why it is wrong, and if you really care to know, He will. If not, well, there is not much else I can say. I will quote a scripture, however - Isaiah 28:7 "But they also have erred through wine, and through strong drink are out of the way; the priest and the prophet have erred through strong drink, they are swallowed up of wine, they are out of the way through strong drink; they err in vision, they stumble in judgment."
Somebody in my ward asked Sarah if I felt excluded on the 4th of July due to my non-US upbringing. I do not feel excluded. I feel thankful to be in a country that the Lord has prepared and freed for a special purpose. I do feel sad, however, particularly on the 4th of July, when I contemplate the degree of ignorance among Americans to that special purpose.