I’m Jimmy Buffett and Willie Nelson. Miranda Lambert and George Strait. I’m a $4 cup of coffee, down a back road and listening to an old Travis Tritt song, reminiscing about coming of age in the good ‘ol days when somebody’s uncle could still buy you a 12 pack of beer or a fifth of whiskey and not end up in the pen for it. Back when the “bad” kids were just smoking weed
in the bathroom stalls and not chopping Oxycontin. I think if Heaven sounds anything less than like Dolly Parton, I’m not sure I want want to go. I read hardbacks and I vote Democrat. I like rescue dogs and Westies. I think car payments are for yuppies and if you want something that lasts long enough to hand it down to your grand kids, you gotta buy a Ford truck.
I am country.
I am southern.
I have more of a dependency on God than you can possibly fathom.
And yes, I’ve still got his Presidential back.
I am Southern, Christian, Democrat.
And I’m white.
As I passed by the house with multiple Confederate flags and Trump signs taped to the tree, I thought — is that what you think it means to be country?
Is that — ignorance and proud of it — being “country” to you?
Country to me means that I recognize that I live in a nation where our forefathers fought for freedom. Freedom means that what a man does in his own house, so long as it doesn’t hurt anybody else, is none of my business. That’s the legacy I learned from my forefathers that fought in World War I and World War II. Everytime I look at the shadow box on my grandmother’s dining room wall with a letter from my great-grandfather — just one of the many Mathis that set down this land for all the generations to come — dated July 2nd, 1916, and written from serving overseas; everytime I look around and see the pictures of his son, my grandfather, who served in three branches of armed forces for our freedom, I think about what that means. And that it — freedom — means that we don’t dictate how another person lives their life. Not here. Not now, not ever. Not under those stars and stripes — and that even applies to those who temporarily refuse to salute it in protest.
I think about his best friend, my uncle, who served in the Air Force and the knew the Bible better than anybody I’ve ever met. He didn’t just talk it, he lived it. And every Saturday night as he headed into the kitchen to study the Bible, I always joked that he already knew it and was pretty sure it hadn’t changed, it — without fail — earned me a lesson from it. As he told me that God commanded we go out into ALL the world and preach the gospel. Not just your safe, white, homeschool corners. It meant I went where I was uncomfortable. It meant I went where I may be the only Bible some people ever read. He told me that where there is injustice, it’s my responsibility to stand up. And if we still live in a nation — a nation whose history includes slavery and segregation —
where I can pull the trigger and kill an unarmed man and have a better chance of convincing a jury that he deserves if he were black than if he were white, we have a problem. And it’s my job to acknowledge that.
That’s what being a Christian means.
That’s what country means.
Southern means when I’m having supper and there’s plenty on the table, we invite the neighbor in — no matter what he looks like, no matter where he comes from, and regardless of how he prays. Because that’s my opportunity to share God with him.
And that is the responsibility that comes with living in the most blessed nation on Earth.
That’s what southern means to me. That’s what Christian means to me. That’s what American means to me.
I don’t know what Southern y’all are finding in a flag that represents those who went to war to continue owning people of color, and I don’t know what Christian you’re finding in presidential candidate who spews ignorance and hate speech.
I just know that I’m a Democrat because it is now, and always has been, the party that cares about someone other than its self.
Hard to get much more Christan or Southern than that.