Dear America, my most beloved America …
The events of last week – pretty much all of them, including the astonishing, distressing and mostly overlooked COVID-19 numbers – left me speechless for a few days. I simply could not pick up my pen to write to you. And, by any measure, the events of the coming weeks will also be momentous for you.
America, I love you. I always have. My parents both served in World War II and I watched my mom tear up every time she heard your national anthem. When I taught English in Turkmenistan about 10 years ago, my students drew pictures of your flag. And even as I acknowledge – and deplore – dark parts of your history that span centuries, I enthusiastically support your democratic “experiment.”
I abhor the assaults on you, America. I grieve your losses, and I experience your pain. I do. That’s why I want you to know that I love you.
Love takes many forms. In fact, the premise of Dr. Gary Chapman’s original 5 Love Languages – Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Receiving Gifts, Quality Time, and Physical Touch – is simple: different people need love expressed in different ways.
And part of my love for you, America, is my deep appreciation. Dr. Chapman adapted his Love Languages in his 5 Languages of Appreciation, and here I express my love for you.
Words of Affirmation: Words of praise are encouraging, but ring hollow if not sincere. So I fervently praise your many accomplishments of more than 200 years. I also attest to your character, although, admittedly, this is a work is progress. But I do admire you, America.
Quality Time: How do we show you how much you are valued? What if we give you our time – our most precious resource – in support of our fellow Americans? What if we work, play, teach, learn, parent, mentor, volunteer, create … in harmony with each other? (For my part, America, I am trying.)
Acts of Service: Actions speak louder than words, yes? So perhaps, if we reach out with help, you will also feel appreciated … even something low-key, such as a law-abiding attempt to observe the speed limit (which requires bit of effort from me) or more consequential, more monumental actions to save, to restore your beauty, your climate, your natural resources.
Tangible Gifts: This one is not as hard as it sounds because I know you understand, America, that even small gifts can have huge impact. And I know you appreciate these gifts – gifts to your arts communities, for example, to your service organizations, to your efforts at justice and peace.
Physical Touch: As Dr. Chapman wisely notes, touch is controversial, and all touches are not created equal. Touch, America, should not be violent, coercive, malevolent, or an assertion of power or influence. The touch of appreciation is the firm handshake, the high five, the pat on the back. And, in this time of essential distancing, perhaps you too, America, crave the appreciative touch of trust, connectedness and caring.
I trust you, America. I care. And I will always be connected to you. High five, America, high five.
Andrea Doray is a writer who is hopeful about the future. Contact her at email@example.com.