What if it’s okay to be okay?

Photo by Brianna Santellan on Unsplash

Last month I wrote a post that blew up. It was seen around the world and became our most popular post. It stirred meaningful, intentional conversation on my Facebook feed, in my messages, over texts and calls. How people felt pretty much boiled down to the same basic points.

People couldn’t agree what the root cause of the issue was, although a vast majority pointed to either loose morals or general divisiveness in the country that translated into actionable violence. I don’t completely disagree, but there’s a post coming about the “loose” morals many in the Christian community point to after times of mass tragedy.


Everyone agreed that America was the best country on Earth, which is good. For the record, I am proud to be an American. I love this country. In the book I’m writing (hopefully out at the end of the year but at this point I wouldn’t hold my breath), I write an essay about love, particularly the kind I believe in, the only kind that matters. The kind that loves you in spite of your faults but is not blind to them. Love that is afraid to mention your faults is not love. If I’m wrong, doing something that’s hurting me, or if there are identifiable ways I can improve myself, I expect the people who truly love me to be courageous in addressing those things to me.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that most people who commented, love the same way I do, not blind but also unconditionally. People responded well to my criticisms, and offered some of their own, but none of us buckled on our love for the country. That should be encouraging to all of us, especially as we gear up for another grueling presidential campaign. I hope you hold that tension well. That you love your country as you critique it, that you hold your American siblings in your heart as you tear them down.

The other universal I found in these responses, was the emphasis on freedoms Americans feel lucky to have. You know them well: freedom of speech, religion, arms, ideas. Relatively uninteresting. We hash out our freedoms over every medium almost constantly. It’s what our troops fight to protect. What we expect cops to honor. It’s what we yell at football players (both kinds) who kneel during anthems, and what we sing. What was interesting was where freedoms were placed in the conversation. They were used to answer the question “What is good about America” and not just that, but the unasked question “What makes America the best?”

We forget, in our conversations about freedom that it isn’t a uniquely American ideal. Maybe, perhaps, in the 1700’s, it was, but today, I can think of far more countries that have freedoms such as ours than do not. Most of this is a result of colonialist attitudes and Western influence that have raised like-minded nations to public, positive consciousness, while ignoring or smearing others. Still. We don’t exactly hold a monopoly on freedom. And what if that’s okay?

What if it’s okay to love the country and not have a good reason why? What if it’s okay to be an okay country, to be proud of that, but not to be the best, or better than everyone else?

Is it possible to believe that you were born in the best way at the best time in the best place, while also living in the tension that the place you live is not better than everywhere else? Can it be both?

Are we okay being okay?

The Car Thief and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Photo by VanveenJF on Unsplash

Picture, for a moment, yourself as a car thief. You stick to the shadows and are a master at making yourself ordinary, able to hide in plain sight. You’re a hunter in search of a prey.

Then you spot it, a silver 2000 Honda CRV on a dark stretch of 13th West. You peer into the front, transparent windows. Christmas lights are on the floor. A drawer sticks out under the passenger seat. Promising. Then there’s the obvious places for hidden gems, the glove box, an ashtray, seat back pockets and door shelves.

You move to the back windows. They’re tinted, always a sign of promise. There’s a bin, and some strewn about clothes. A cardboard moving box. Coupled with the out-of-state plates, this feels like a sign from God. Lots of treasures from a new Washington resident eager to move in but tired, and defeated, leaving a treasure trove for kleptomaniac hands to take and keep.

Salivating, you unlock the door, hands tingling, eyes hungry.

You rummage quickly, no use getting caught with prizes this good in sight.

You open the ash tray. Two loose dollar bills and some change await. You dump it into your bag. Already a success.

The bin under the passenger seat is next. You pull it out, and dump it in the seat. There’s a dictionary of various Christian traditions. A greeting card with a dog on it (No money inside). Deodorant. Lotion. A comb. Another thing of lotion. Nail clippers. Oh my god how much lotion can one person have?! An old pay stub from last November. Nothing.


The foreplay is over, you’ve fantasized about the contents of the boxes and bins. It’s time to dig in. The first box, the cardboard is tragically, shockingly empty, save for a loose piece of trash, a candy wrapper.

The bin is also empty, but you spot a gift bag. Canadian cookies, a sweatshirt from a museum, and a old (magical, sisterhood of the traveling pants style jacket… but you wouldn’t know that) are inside. What a disappointment.

You think to look under the seats. Two discarded Taco Time tomatoes stare back at you. The owner of this car is disgusting.

You finally open up the glove box. It overflows with napkins. So. Many Napkins.

You tear through them to try and get to the bottom. There has to be something good. A car registration (expired). A copy of insurance. A page detailing a booking to a Hostel in Canada (no personal information 😦 Of course). An “in memory of” picture of a young bearded guy. Somehow more napkins.

And then, your heart beats faster. Car keys. Must be spares. Surely they can’t be so old the owner of the car has no idea whose the are or where they go. That would be ludicrous. Surely they belong to this very car.

You jam it into the ignition and turn. Nothing.

Dejected, you hang your head and walk away. At least you’ve left a bit of a mess. So much effort, so many hopes and dreams begun. Then shattered.

You’re a car thief. You’ve had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day thanks to a lowly writer who keeps nothing but interesting junk and food wrappers just past his easy-to-open car doors.

Bryce’s debut collection can be purchased here. 25% of the profits go to organizations like RAINN, 1in6, and End The Backlog. He writes short stories for free here. Support him by purchasing your next book through this special link and get FREE worldwide shipping.

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