Before sunrise on May 16, 2023 I boarded an Alaska Airlines flight from Portland (PDX) to San Francisco (SFO). I got on a return flight later that evening. I only needed to be in San Francisco for approximately 2 hours, but decided to make “a day of it.” I had a singular meeting at 2 pm at the Consulate of The Government of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. In fairness, I wasn’t meeting with the Grand Duchy personally, although his photo was on the wall, and he had visited the Consulate a few weeks prior. I was meeting with a Sworn Consult Officer in order to finalize becoming a Dual-Citizen of Luxembourg.
It’s a long story, and I won’t bore you with all the details. Suffice it to say, my family tree has long roots, unbroken through male lineage, in Luxembourg, and I/we were made aware of a process called “Heritage Reclamation” and actively took the necessary, albeit laborious, steps to become dual-citizens. Who doesn’t want to have multiple passports of varying colors (I’m looking at you Jason Bourne!)? Honestly, I felt very Jason Bourne as I used my Luxembourg passport to and from London/Oxford!
With this as my current backdrop, I read Francis Fukuyama’s “Identity” with delight and a sense of bifurcation, as an American AND Luxembourg citizen. Fukuyama says, “Dual citizenship has become increasingly widespread today as migration levels have increased. For many people who travel or have family in different countries, having multiple passports is a great convenience. But if one takes national identity seriously, it is a rather questionable practice. Different nations have different identities and different interests that engender potentially conflicting allegiances” (pg. 168). Fukuyama expounds upon some of those potential conflicts: military service, immigration, creedal identity, political priorities, etc.
Admittedly, I am not too worried about America going to war against Luxembourg, which is about the size of Rhode Island, and yet, history has shown us that such things have happened, and very well could happen again.
As the EU continues to wrestle with its collective identity, its younger cousin America finds itself in an ongoing struggle with its identity. Fukuyama asserts that, having broke with early versions of identity based upon race, ethnicity and religion, “Americans can be proud of this very substantive identity; it is based on belief in the common political principles of constitutionalism, the rule of law, democratic accountability, and the principle that ‘all men are created equal’ (now interpreted to include all women)” (pg. 158). Of course, each of these identity commonalities have seriously been brought into question, and are increasingly problematic because of varied interpretations of said “commonalities.”
This is where dignity “forked in two directions..toward a liberal individualism…and toward collective identities that could be defined by either nation or religion” (pg. 91). It would be far too simplistic and reductionist to categorize these as “left and right,” and yet (here I go…) on the “left” is the general argument that the United States is too diverse to have a national identity, thus the liberal individualism. Whereas the “right” seems to have retreated into a collective identity of race (nation) and religion.
One could see the lines of demarcation growing more and more pronounced during the most recent US presidential elections, pandemic, racial unrest, and overall political/cultural posturing. The pressure was on to pick a tribe, join a team, wear your colors, learn the language, and use the secret handshake. This put many people, especially dual citizens, in an untenable position of having to live a lie, feel alienation and anxiety, and/or align themselves with that which they simple do not resonate with.
Most importantly, the “dual citizens” I am referring to are those that are citizens of an Earthly country (ie: USA, Britain, etc), and that of the Kingdom of God. It is my personal belief that as a follower of Jesus I am first and foremost a citizen of God’s Kingdom, and secondarily of the United States of America, and, now, of Luxembourg. In that order.
Let me repeat: in that order. Kingdom first. And as a citizen of the Kingdom of God, I hold to the recognition of everyone’s equal worth and dignity. Period. It’s not dependent upon where one lives, how one voted, relational status, sexual identity, economic worth, if you wore a mask or didn’t, etc. etc. etc. Now, having said that, I agree with Fukuyama when he said, “We cannot get away from identity or identity politics” (pg. 163), however, moving forward, I believe followers of Jesus can and must do a better job of elevating the Kingdom of God (which, by the way, is NOT a physical Kingdom of dominance!), as modeled in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, recorded in the Gospels, and taught in the Sermon on the Mount by Jesus himself.
My prayer is that followers of Jesus, as we rapidly approach another potentially divisive and resentful US election in 2024, seek to be people of peace, grace, unity and love for the other.
Oh, and if this doesn’t happen my wife and I will be moving to Luxembourg!