One America: are we sure?

America. I was born, reared in and now I live in America. I am a citizen of America, thus I am assumed to be a benefactor of all the rights and privileges America’s credentials have to offer. America has been around now for 240 years, officially. She has had some good times, and she has had some bad times. Others have tried to bring her down with rhetoric, with propaganda, and at times, even with violence. She has had her face slapped countless times. There have been times that she has suffered from a good kicking of her behind. She’s been made to cry, to feel the pain of ridicule, and the shame of having egg on her face due to some of her own indiscretions. The streets of America have been covered at times with the anger of her own citizens boiling over in protest. That has been happening a lot of late. It sometimes feels as though we Americans are not united in any form or fashion.

America is now into her third century of existence. Her citizens, as a whole, enjoy the highest standard of material living of any country in the world; however, when we take a closer look, many of her citizens are not party to this lofty living. There is something amiss in America. There is something that just isn’t right. This something generates inequality and exclusion from so much that America is supposed to stand for. Though the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and many laws are in place to ensure equality and justice for all, the hearts and minds of too many are not in sync with the high and mighty principles these documents promote.

People are angry all over America right now. Many of these people don’t feel that they are part and parcel of the America the flag and all of the great American symbols stand for. These people are Americans too, but they don’t have a sense that they are part of the inner circle. The irony of this is that in America there should be no inner circle, there should be just one circle of inclusion for all. America’s pledge of allegiance touts that we Americans are one nation under God with liberty and justice for all.  The problem seems to be that though we are a nation under God, we are not living under the principles of God. It’s not uncommon to hear our princes say, “God bless America”, apparently not realizing that America is blessed by God through their actions and ours. God doesn’t always part the seas and shower Manna from heaven. Instead, He expects us to open up our hearts and let understanding, love and compassion reign down like the Manna He showered His people with in the wilderness.

America is an example for the world in many cases. We have a middle class that many nations would like to see within their own boarders. We have influence that stretches around the globe. Thousands petition to be an adopted member of our family yearly. But, there’s something wrong in America today. There are many who are convinced that she isn’t, nor has she ever lived fully up to the principles by which she’s supposed to operate. This begs the question: Is there one America?

I’m old and blessed…hope you will be too.

Reflections on time

Time is something I’m thinking about more these days than in years past. At my age there is less of it left than when I was twenty-one. I used to think that my having Multiple Myeloma would shorten it, but sixteen-plus years after diagnosis; I give very little thought to that prospect.  As so many of us do, we don’t always make the best use of it. There have been countless times in my life when I’ve gotten up in the morning with a goodly number of things on my to-do list, but later in the day laziness took over and at the end of the day I have little to show. Unlike the digital devices many of us have at our disposal, we can’t press a rewind button to take us back to the beginning of the last 24 hours, so we can redo them. God can look out on his creation and see it all, digitally with one omniscient gander. It’s not segmented for Him, yesterday, today, tomorrow; it’s all within the scope of His panorama. Our view is more analog, seeing only what’s before us at the moment. And though we can occasionally take a retrospective, we can only have effect on time at the moment.

I just came from a funeral of a young associate of mine. She was only thirty-five years old. She worked in the office from which I retired a little over two years ago. Her death was a dramatic example of death by a senseless act. Her boyfriend shot her three times in the neck and head area while they were arguing in her front yard. From the news reports I’ve heard, one of her daughters witnessed the incident. Her daughters are ages eight and fourteen. These young ladies are fine examples of good parenting. Though their mom wasn’t married; she reared them to this stage of their lives on her own. These girls are smart, beautiful and quite charming. They both spoke at their mother’s funeral; receiving a standing ovation for the intelligent and compassionate delivery of the few words they presented to honor their mom. That funeral caused me to think about time, and how those of us who are blessed to experience more of it often don’t think enough about what a gift it is.

The longer I live, the more time I have to experience a lot more God has to offer. I also have more time to see people take their exit from this plain of existence. On a recent mental inventory I took, I was surprised at the number of people I’ve personally known who are no longer available to share time with me. At the risk of being boringly redundant, I’m a Multiple Myeloma patient, and I’ve seen a good number of fellow patients take their exit. That’s understandable, though no less heart breaking. But many of the folks I used to see and will no longer see in this life existed by way of old age, accidents, and tragedy, such as the aforementioned young lady. Time offers opportunity for joy and happiness, sadness and suffering, comradery and loneliness.  It also seems that the longer God blesses us with time, the more opportunity we have to experience the more depressing hours that come with living a long, blessed life. It’s not comforting attending funerals, seeing more people leaving you here in what oftentimes seems like a growing state of loneliness. Your living longer places you in a state where your contemporaries are evaporating like mid-morning fog on a sunny summer’s day. But then you have to realize that as a believer, you are never alone. He promised He would always be with you. If you believe that, and accept Him as Lord and Savior, time and the loneliness that can come with it are not a problem.

You’re really a human: Made in the image of God

You’re a racist, a bigot, a sexist, a misogynist, and whatever else I can think of to paint the most negative picture I can of you. These seem to be the terms that are being bandied about from one political camp to the other during this political campaign season. I, for one, have grown sick of the entire affair. You can call me old fashion, if you’d like, but I am interested in the issues that affect the welfare of the country, my neighbor and me. Candidates acting like children on the school yard playground have about a much appeal to me as a root canal.

Whenever I hear one derogatory name being thrown after the other by our presidential candidates, I get the feel that I’m not being taken seriously. Do they really think I can easily sink to a level of intelligence where my mind ceases to function, and I’m driven primarily by emotions? Well, maybe not me, but there does seem to be segments of our national community that have had its appetite whetted by these childish shenanigans.

One of the best, and yes, also the worst things about living in a free society is that freedom works for all. I have the right to speak and act in as positive a way as I can muster, and you have the right to project yourself in a counter fashion; of course, you don’t have the right to visit harm upon my being. Although your behavior may indicate otherwise, you were made in the image of God just like me. Yes, you are human, though at times I fail to see that attribute I your character. When that happens, it’s my responsibility to act even more human-like. God loves us all, and it’s the responsibility of those of us who remembers that to act with human civility in spite of the memory lapse of others.

I’m old and blessed…hope you will be too.