I’m going to make an admission here, since we’ve been getting to know each other so well since I’ve begun writing this column: I have a complicated relationship with the nation I call my home, the nation of my birth — the United States.

I know, I know, it’s cool to either excessively love or hate this country if you live here, but I’ve never really concerned myself with being cool. I was never good at it.

Instead, I’m not afraid to admit that while I deeply love the idea of the United States and the promise it has always held, in reality, my country often falls far short of that promise. In fact, my country often more resembles the nations it purports to oppose.

Part of the issue is my faith. As a Christian, it’s difficult for me to put too much faith or too much stock in a worldly power overseen by flawed and sinful men and women. The history books are filled with the stories of the rise and fall of nations and empires more powerful than the United States. I believe that, ultimately, only God’s kingdom will survive for eternity.

But, that doesn’t excuse me from being aware and involved in the here and now and with the concern of making life better for my fellow human beings, using the apparatus of government very often as the way to do so.

That means that, despite my spiritual beliefs, I cannot bow out or completely turn a blind eye to the political process.

That being said, the processes and bureaucracy which uphold the government are often either ineffective at achieving or diametrically opposed to the stated aims of the United States — liberty, equality, justice and the like.

And, at various points in my life, often depending on my point of view and beliefs at a given time, it has frustrated me to no end as I see this disconnect between what is and what could be. I often can understand, when standing and watching the glacial pace at which this nation moves toward what it says is its goals, the feelings and emotions which drive people to go beyond the ballot box in their political involvement.

Yes, I can very often sympathize or at the very least empathize with those of all political stripes who take to the streets or who physically occupy the spaces of power to express their displeasure, sometimes at their own peril.

When I was watching the news on Jan. 6, 2021, I was, like most of the rest of the nation, subjected to a range of emotions — shock, horror, a lack of understanding. However, what I did not wonder about or feel surprise at was the genesis of the events of that day.

Many of the people who gathered in Washington to show their support for outgoing President Donald Trump have been led to believe that their very existence, their lives are in jeopardy due to a Biden Administration. They have been told that they were cheated, and having been convinced and convincing themselves that there’s no way Joe Biden won, they believed they were acting as “patriots” and “revolutionaries” — striking back at a process and government that was seeking to take everything they had held dear.

However, acknowledging all that, nothing about Jan. 6, 2021, was OK or acceptable. The subsequent legal action still ongoing against those responsible has neither been swift nor strong enough for my taste.

I think, for me, one moment which stuck out from that day was seeing the Confederate battle flag paraded through the Capitol.

Why that for me? Because, whatever meaning people place on that symbol, for all my life the primary purpose for which it has been used is as a symbol of separation, of disunity, an expression of a desire to no longer be in fellowship with the greater community of the United States of America.

No matter where I’ve stood in my politics, I’ve never reached the conclusion that the dissolution of the United States is the best course of action. I’ve often wondered if it can all hold together — never more than in recent years, but I also realize that, if we don’t get “there” together as a nation, it’s likely not worth the journey.

That’s the separation I’ve always quietly mourned when considering the United States — the fact that the promise of this nation relies on us not being in lockstep, but at least traveling together toward similar goals — a stronger nation, a nation which is focused on being better, and working to get better everyday.

It’s about a nation that is concerned with reaching the promises made at the beginning of the union, together, united. What happened on Jan. 6, 2021 did nothing to make a strong union, and little that has happened since is pointed at that goal.

In the HBO television show, “The Newsroom,” a bulk of the introduction is dedicated to watching news anchor Will McAvoy, played by Jeff Daniels, answer a question posed to him at a public event “Why is America the greatest country in the world.”

His answer: It isn’t. But it used to be. I’ll leave you with some of that Aaron Sorkin-penned speech, which, to me, summarizes my feelings on the matter quite well:

“We sure used to be. We stood up for what was right! We fought for moral reasons; we passed and struck down laws for moral reasons. We waged wars on poverty, not poor people. We sacrificed, we cared about our neighbors, we put our money where our mouths were and we never beat our chest. We built great big things, made ungodly technological advances, explored the universe, cured diseases, and cultivated the world's greatest artists and the world's greatest economy. We reached for the stars, and we acted like men. We aspired to intelligence; we didn't belittle it; it didn't make us feel inferior. We didn't identify ourselves by who we voted for in the last election, and we didn't scare so easy. And we were able to be all these  things and do all these things because we were informed. By great men, men who were revered. The first step in solving any problem is recognizing there is one — America is not the greatest country in the world anymore.”

May God help us to recognize the problem and work to solve it — together.