Hello Out There …

25 Mar

 Are we from different planets – maybe even different galaxies? 

Aren’t we hearing one another?

At the very least, we seem to be sitting on a bomb with an ever shorter fuse. Consider the shooting in Sanford, Fla. The news has gone international; the media have made a circus of the sad death of Trayvon Martin. Even without violence to aggravate tensions, ethnicity complicates, to some degree, the connection problem we have in society. Add to this the differences in values in both ethnic and age groups, philosophies of life and politics.

In the Sanford shooting, the reaction from citizens demonstrates racial tensions; you can hear the cries of the 1960s — with one big difference: Black Americans are totally emancipated. (Tomorrow, we’ll take a brief look at a persistent social problem among all ethnic groups: psychological poverty.)

Just lump all of these into one pot, stir vigorously over a very hot fire –and you have the New America.

For generations two very important characteristics defined our nation: We believed in God and we believed in personal responsibility (tempered with a desire to help people who could not really help themselves).

Our belief in God

We believed that we were made in the image of God. There surely were theological differences and disputes. There was most surely religious persecution among Christians themselves and there was persecution of the Jews.

We believed in objective truth – immutable and unchangeable as God himself. We had differences of opinion of how to interpret certain truths, but we held on to truth as something greater than ourselves, our desires and our imaginations.

God was God and we were not.

It is not the same today.  Many people seem to make God in their own image, taking what they want to take from God and refusing what they deem uncomfortable or a challenge to their intellectual “freedom” or their “right” to do whatever they wish to do.

No? More than half of babies in this country belong to single moms. Divorce is rampant. Marriage is “permanent” as long as each person feels “good” about the relationship. Sex is recreational; promiscuity is all too common; fidelity and procreation are far from personal and social conscience and consciousness. Clothing styles reveal more and more of the human anatomy and less and less of innate human dignity. Work is seen as a burden and a necessary evil rather than a share in God’s creative and healing power. Consumerism keeps people on the fast track to financial disaster because you can’t be happy with what you have; you always need more to be “more happy.”

Our sense of personal responsibility

We believed there was dignity in work. We saw “work” as a way to help others, to build up a strong family, community and nation.

People, for the most part, wanted to support themselves. They seemed to be willing to live with less as long as they were self-sufficient. When they needed help, they accepted it reluctantly and gratefully. And when we gave assistance we did it almost apologetically.

I remember in the late 1930s my mother often cooked enough for the folks across the street because they had no family income. Then she’d send me over with food and I was supposed to say, “Miz Bessie, Mama said, she cooked too much today. Would you mind taking this so it won’t go to waste?”

Miz Bessie knew what was going on, but her dignity was in place.

That was before the government took over. Now, assistance is given impersonally and, in its recipients, tends to reduce the sense of human dignity and the spiritual character of labor.

We believed our vote to be sacred. We were responsible for our government. Today, I know too many teenagers, young adults and older folks who are totally unconcerned with the news of the day. They seem to have accepted things as they are. They seem to feel helpless to make a difference. Or, sometimes, they seem uninterested in their sacred duty to vote and have a voice in how our country is run and how we are to relate to other people around the world.

(Tomorrow,” Trying for Understanding.”)


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