The Country I am So Proud of

The Country I am so Proud of

On January 20th, 2017, Donald J. Trump became the 45th President of the US.  To that, I say congratulations and may your tenure be successful.  As with any President, there are those who support him and those who do not.  If you were to look back on all the Presidents as far back as the 1st one, it would be discovered that not one of them had 100% support of the people; so, Donald J Trump is in good company.  The President has very limited in power despite what public opinion may or may not say.  The President is only as good as the people of the US – that is a scary thought.  If the people of the US do not support him (like him or not) and seek ways to undermine him, he will be an ineffective leader.  This was proved during Mr. Obama’s presidency.  The President cannot change the climate of the country, the people do that.  If we have pinned all our hope on one person to do great things for our nation, whether it be Barak H. Obama or Donald J Trump, we are sadly mistaken.
            That said, it is imperative for the people of the US to understand that this is our country and what we do with this country, one way or the other, we will be held responsible for it.  Scripture says “”Make a tree good and its fruit will be good or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit” (Matthew 12:33).  So, what kind of fruit do we want from this country?  In the eyes of the world do we want to be “the weak-kneed country” or “the country with great possibilities”?  Abraham Lincoln said it best “If destruction is our lot, we ourselves must be its author and finisher”.  If our country is to be destroyed, it is done by us, not by an outside entity; because, if it were an outside entity, we would fight to eradicate it but, who can stand in opposition to a divided country?  In a report written by retired military officers, it was stated that too many young people are too overweight, have not graduated from high school, have a police record, or generally unfit for service[1].  There is a deeper problem with sluggishness amidst the populace of the US.  We are divided spiritually, educationally, and fearfully.  IF this continues, we as a nation could go into anonymity or the Spirit of God referred to Egypt “Rahab the Do Nothing” (Isaiah 30:7).
            I realize that as human beings, things upset us and our anger is easily aroused by rumor, rantings of a few, and passions. The events that occurred on the streets following the election, during the inauguration, and most likely the days and weeks that follow will bring these passions to the forefront.  The problem is that every segment of the US has a responsibility for the country’s welfare.  So, when political action groups call for civil unrest, they are not having the best interest of the nation nor the supporters in mind.   Black Lives Matter had young kids on the highways blocking traffic – of what possible use is that?  When we allow ourselves to overreach situations to the point of a riot, we have done nothing but harm ourselves.  What was accomplished by the riots?  The answer is “nothing”.  People were hurt, the property was destroyed but, nothing positive came of the events.
            I call to the people of the US to take a hard look at what they are trying to accomplish and seek the welfare of the nation not one’s political view. The late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke fervently on civil rights using non-violent means to accomplish the goals.  Unfortunately, in one protest, a few of the students took to smashing windows which led to looting which brought the organization into question about what its real intent was [2].  Across our great nation, there are buildings, streets, highways, and parks named after Dr. King but, I wonder if he saw all of it he would prefer the money spent for these things to be used as outreach for the youth to encourage them to be active participants in the growth of this nation; I know I would.  The local news station reported on a on how a few people spent Martin Luther King’s birthday doing what they did and, the impact on society.
            Mr. Trump’s inauguration on 1/20/2017 is not the end of the problems for the US, it is the beginning of more problems and challenges; if we do nothing, all of it will be a waste of time.  All the wrapping ourselves in the flag, pressing for Christian values, rebel rousing, destroying property, and killing people will do nothing but further separate people.  The Moral Majority movement of the late 1970’s to late 80’s exemplifies this statement.  The organization had the financial prowess, the ear of the conservatives, and even a Republican President yet, the organization folded and is not heard from[3].  The movement ended due in part to its hardline stances.  This is important because today the BLM has a hardline stance and it will face the same judgment as for the Moral Majority[4]; people will listen to them for a time until the truth is found out and then it will rapidly disintegrate.   The point is, either we will work together as a nation or we will work at cross purposes to our destruction which is exactly what the enemy wants.
            God gives us the choice about which way we will live our lives; All the laws, mandates, and even changes to the Constitution will not alter our God-given choice.  For countless years, the main argument has been “____ is trying to take my choice away”.  The problem is, no one takes our choice away, we give it up freely by not engaging our minds first and our passions second.  Choosing to be part of the problem or part of the solution is a choice and one that should not be taken lightly.  It is easier to cast blame on someone else for our mistakes then it is to accept responsibility for our actions.  Consider the race riots of the 60’s and most recently Ferguson, MO   On either side of the argument, there was an element of truth – listen to both sides and you will see the truth staring you in the face. Here is the conundrum though, both sides have legitimate claims and both sides have a following.  What is not spoken of is: what if any common grounds.  If common grounds cannot be found, then we are seeing things as black or white; which, I believe, is the underlying current of prejudice and stereotyping; both positive and negative stereotyping are problematic[5].  Being part of the solution means to reconstruct the incident using credible information.  In college, I was thought “critical thinking skills” which implies improving our line of thinking by analyzing, assessing, and reconstructing our lines of thought and by it improve our thought process[6].   I firmly believe now, more than ever, that if we do not critically think about what we are doing it, what we intend to do, and where our minds are, we are heading for a pit we cannot possibly get out of.  Every person in this US must understand this point if we are to keep going as a nation.  It is not just Mr. Trump with a problem, it is all the US without exception.
            In our nation, we have troublemakers whose goal is and has always been to establish their own rule of law.  These people come from varying backgrounds, ethnicities, religions, and age groups – their acts of defiance bring about a stereotype of the ethnic background they represent.  Consider radical Islam whose acts of aggression has been responsible for the destruction of communities, states, nations, and the world at large. From Mexico, we are getting the drug cartels coming across the border.  The troublemaking group is small by comparison but its ideology spreads like a plague across the landscape.  Not every undocumented immigrant is a troublemaker though and that must be understood; some are just hard-working people who seek a better way of life. In every country, there are laws about immigration and the US is not an exception. When the laws are not enforced, there will be problems like we are facing today.
            In an article in Psychology Today, it is reported that we will listen to as much as 17 bad reports to 1 good report.  From the bad reports, we will make decisions on how we will spend our resources, live our lives, and what the focus of our life will be[7].  In listening to the bad news, we make unwise decisions or become fearful or, see everyone as being the enemy when in truth they are not. God’s word admonishes us to have balance in our life when it comes to how we perceive ourselves (Ecclesiastics 7:15 – 18).  If we can understand that in this world, we face both good and evil, we can accept both ends of the spectrum and make something of it.  Unfortunately, we are not in the Garden of Eden where everything is perfect and we are blind to what is going on around us.  In this world, we deal with swindlers, thieves, liars, and murderers; yet, we also have many wonderful things being done by common man to make life enjoyable.  For example, on the news there are multiple reports of Police involved shootings of young black men and it leads us to believe the worst of those protecting us; yet, in another report, I read an excellent report about the law enforcement community in Brooklyn Park MN made it a point to engage a multi-cultural community in a soccer game to bolster community relationships[8].  From these positive events, lives are changed quite often for the better, people learn the truth, and lives are restored.  John F. Kennedy said during his inaugural address “Ask not what your country can do for you but, what you can do for your country”[9]. My point is that we can listen to all the bad reports and can be blinded to the good that is being done.
            Today in America, we have approximately 41.3 million immigrants from varying backgrounds and country of origin[10].  Each culture brings a new dynamic to the country and adds to the fabric of the nation.  Each culture brings a new cuisine, new ideas, and a new language.  Many of the immigrants have campaigned for a public office and some have won; I believe this is fantastic because, it means a new idea is interjected and old biases die out; yet, I see a problem with it because, for some, it is about getting what “we want” and not what is in the best interest of the whole.  Some might assert “if the ____ gets into office, all of _____ will occur”.  The problem is our system of democracy has built-in checks and balances to ensure one area of government does not become too powerful[11]. When our elected officials boycott a vote simply because it is not what they believe in, they do more harm to the people they represent despite the support of the people.
            For change to occur in the country, we must understand that it begins and ends with us, not the government or the elected leaders.  We are given the mandate by God to change our world.  If we believe we have no power, we deceive ourselves. The issues surrounding culture clashes can be solved by people willing to reach across cultures to help one another.  If you want to stop “Hate”, respond in love; if you want to stop the violence, reach out in love.  Not everyone will be won but, if you touch one person, you have set a plan in motion that will pay off down the road.  Jesus was one person who was despised, rejected and often abandoned yet, he made inroads with a people that had long ago been rejected by the people of Israel.  By Jesus willing to spend time with the people, a community was reached (John 4).  Imagine, what we could do in our world with people that are abandoned, rejected, and despised how we can change the one world one heart at a time.  It is said: “There is no more neutrality in the world. Either you will be part of the solution or you will be part of the problem” (Eldridge Cleaver).  I firmly believe that there is nothing so bad in this country, even the most horrific of hate crimes, violent riots, and widespread looting that cannot be overcome if we are willing to take a chance.
I love my country flaws, pain points, disagreements, and frustrations; I still shed a   tear when I hear the Star-Spangled Banner and I still pray for my country.  When I hear people say “I will leave this country if _____happens” I say “please leave and do so quietly”.  It greatly saddens me to hear people complaining about the country and doing nothing to solve the problems. The country is not perfect nor, is it going to give everybody exactly what they want but, will afford the opportunity to do great things if you are willing to do the work.  I am amazed at the number of minorities who, despite all odds, went onto successful careers by paths they had forged.  Forging a path incurs a cost and the person forging the path must pay it to its fullest amount. Freedom is not free; the rights we believe are ours did not come without a price tag attached. Take the right to vote: In the beginning, only the wealthy white landowners could vote.  IN 1868 the law was amended so that all white man could vote.  It was not until the 1920’s that women could vote. In 1923 the Native Americans could vote.  Literacy tests were enacted to restrict people from voting[12].  The changes did not just occur, it took people willing to fight for it and even willing to die for it.  Our rights came at a price far greater than we can fully realize; it is our responsibility to maintain it or, lose it forever – it is our choice but, we must do it respectfully to earn the support and respect of our fellow citizens.  Scripture says, “Through patience, a ruler can be persuaded, and a gentle tongue can break a bone” (Proverbs 25:15).  In closing, I look to Aesop and his fable “The Sun and the North Wind” with the Sun’s final words “It was easy,” said the Sun, “I lit the day. Through gentleness, I got my way”[13].
Blessings for your day
Mike


[1] CDN Military Readiness Staff.  Too Fat to Fight. A report by Mission Readiness: Military Leaders for Kids.  Retrieved http://cdn.missionreadiness.org/MR_Too_Fat_to_Fight-1.pdf
[2] History.net Staff.  Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Retrieved http://www.historynet.com/martin-luther-king-jr.
[3] Banwart, D. Jerry Falwell, the Rise of the Moral Majority, and the 1980 Election. Retrieved http://www.wiu.edu/cas/history/wihr/pdfs/Banwart-MoralMajorityVol5.pdf
[4] Bijan, S. Social Media Helps Black Lives Matter Fight the Power. Retrieved https://www.wired.com/2015/10/how-black-lives-matter-uses-social-media-to-fight-the-power/

[5] Livingston, S. Positive” Prejudice: Killing with Kindness? Part One. Psychology today (1/23/2009). Retrieved https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/tinted-lenses/200901/positive-prejudice-killing-kindness-part-one

[6] Critical Thinking Staff.  Critical Thinking.  Retrieved from http://www.criticalthinking.org/pages/our-concept-and-definition-of-critical-thinking/411
[7] Williams, R. Why we Love Bad News. Retrieved https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/wired-success/201012/why-we-love-bad-news (12/2010).
[8] Berg T. Friendly Soccer Match Aims to Improve Community, Police Relationships. Retrieved http://kstp.com/article/stories/s4232612.shtml (8/13/2016).
[9] Kennedy, JF. First Inaugural Address (January 20th 1961). Retrieved http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=8032&
[10] Ziegler and Camerota. U.S. Immigrant Population Record 41.3 million in 2013. Retrieved http://cis.org/immigrant-population-record-2013.
[11] Powell, J. James Madison – Checks and Balances to Limit Government. Retrieved https://fee.org/articles/james-madison-checks-and-balances-to-limit-government-power/
[12] Infoplease Staff. Voting Rights. Retrieved from http://www.infoplease.com/timelines/voting.html
[13] Aesop. The Sun and the North Wind. Retrieved https://www.storyarts.org/library/aesops/stories/north.html

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