Tag Archives: community

Are you a patriot?

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Each day in grade school we started with our hands over our hearts, bodies and faces toward the door where the flag was prominently displayed, and together recited the words we knew by heart.

Sure, when we were that young, we often fidgeted and stood on one foot and then another, and couldn’t wait to be done to tell our desk mates our plans for recess. We were all so different from each other.

And yet the same.

But each day we had the clear reminder of just what a privilege it is for each of us as unique individuals to live in this country, the land of the free, and in fact a Promised Land. As children we were clearly familiar with what it was to stand together and face the same direction as unified compatriots.

flag2I remember that the big thing to look forward to was when we were in sixth grade when, two by two, we had the responsibility of taking the large American flag out to the pole in the courtyard and in the morning raising it up, and at the end of the lowering it down. Mr. Wiser was our coach and trainer to make sure it was folded correctly and it never touched the ground. We never let our flag be out in rainy or snowy weather.

Again, through sheer repetition and prominent placement in our daily schedule we had no doubt of the importance of our county.

That’s just it, isn’t it? OUR country.

Not just yours, not just mine.

Ours.

Continue reading Are you a patriot?

Don’t prejudiced people just drive you nuts?

For years I have scratched my head in bewilderment at the anger and animosity the LGBT community displays. It’s almost a hyper-sensitive, prejudged response to anything less than the blanket embracing of their values.

I just wasn’t sure where all of this defensiveness and immediate-assumption of outside hatred was coming from.

But last night I had a bit of an epiphany.

Our daughter is on the east coast going to graduate school. She loves it. That makes me smile just typing it. For the first time in her life, she is experiencing what she has always imagined education could be; what it really should be: intense discussion of important issues, bringing many varying perspectives to the table, and recognizing that there is truth coming from all directions.

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This also brings the recognition that one person doesn’t possess all the facts, all the understanding of these ever-evolving issues. The facts become clearer as all the necessary ingredients are added to the pot.

It also shines light on another fact: no one is completely a victim without also being a little prejudiced.

Let me explain.

Continue reading Don’t prejudiced people just drive you nuts?

“It is time to defend not so much human rights as human obligations” – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn 

My constitutional rights.

We hear it often when people are demonstrating. They are angry that their rights have been abused or trampled on.

supreme-court   And they should be.

People who don’t fight for their rights tend to lose them.

But I did a little research to see just what those rights were. I found that there is a pretty extensive list of our constitutional rights.

But not all the rights that we hear people shouting “That’s my right!” were listed.  We’ve made some pretty liberal jumps in assuming what we actually do and do not have as a constitutional right.

On the same document of constitutional rights, I found it interesting that there was also a list of duties. These rights we keep shouting about don’t come alone; they are accompanied by responsibilities. Continue reading “It is time to defend not so much human rights as human obligations” – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn 

Pray. Listen. Act.

  

War in the Ukraine.Wild fires throughout the United States.School girls taken from their dormitories in Nigeria and sold.What can I do?I think there is frustration when we hear of horrible things happening around the world but we are in effect helpless to make a difference.

Or are we?

When I was in college I was given a poem based on the text from Matthew 25:35-36 which had a deep impact on me. It went through each of the admonishments in the verses where the sufferer was still suffering because we weren’t acting. At the end, the message came through that we may seem holy because we pray, but we haven’t in fact helped anyone out of the hole they are in.

I have agreed with the premise of the poem and shared it with many people over the years. Its message is powerful.

Now I wonder if we have gone too far, and only think our actions will do any good.

What really is prayer?

I’m sure that across the globe there are many different interpretations of the correct process. Some prayers may be more heartfelt than others, some more full of desperation than hope, some full of bitterness and anger rather than humility.

I would think the efficacy of prayer has more to do with the person offering the prayer than the One we know is at the other end, listening.

Why?

I certainly would never infer that God only listens to some while ignoring others. I understand far too much of life to ever allow that thought to be bandied about. He hears every prayer.

But prayer is communication, not recitation. Communication demands two participating parties. When one speaks, the other must listen.

I know when we speak, He listens.

When He speaks, do we listen?

Do we really believe that He will speak?

Really?

What happens when I pray?

I acknowledge that Someone knows more and has more control over things than I do. I humble myself to ask for help. My mind is focused on the problem at hand, and I am more likely to have ideas come to me that may provide solutions. With my mind focused, I am ready to get up and do something about it.

Pray. Listen. Act.

Kind of a simple mantra, but a pretty effective one, nonetheless.

So, let’s go back to the horrific things happening across the globe currently. What possible good could come from me praying about the situation in the Ukraine? Will my prayers put out the fires? Can praying return the stolen girls to their families?

My singular prayers may not have a huge effect on these happenings.

But I am still a member of the human race and while that brings many rights and privileges, it brings with it responsibility. The responsibility to not just stand by. The responsibility to not push it off as “not my problem.”

We’ve heard the story of the little boy on the beach who is standing amidst thousands and thousands of starfish that have washed up with the tide and are left on the dry sand. He bends down and picks one up and throws it back into the sea.

When asked what he is doing, he replies that he is saving the starfish.

“But you can’t possibly expect to throw enough back to make a difference, you can never get to them all.”

He bends over and picks one up. “Yeah, but it will make a difference to this one.” He reaches back and throws as hard as he can.

My prayer, combined with your prayer, and our friend’s prayers help us to get our minds focused that there is indeed Someone who knows more, who has a solution to the problem at hand. Rather than demanding the problem be solved, we ask for the best way and the guidance for each of us to do our part.

And we pray for each other. We pray for those in a position to help in the Ukraine. We pray for those fighting the forest fires. We pray for those searching for the stolen girls.

Because we know Someone does know more and has a solution for the problem at hand.

In the process, we find ourselves blessed with thoughts and ideas, things that just may help make a difference.

And we get up off our knees and get to work.

We may not be able to bring peace to the Ukraine on our own, but we can help build bridges between opposite sides of a position in our community.

We may not be able to hold the hose on the flames, but we can help conserve the water we have to make sure there is enough to go around.

We may not directly be able to bring home the kidnapped girls, but we can help a struggling neighbor child with her homework.

Kind of like throwing back a starfish.

Who knows if working for the resolution between opposing sides here locally will help lead to peace on a global scale?

But who knows that it won’t?

Pray. Listen. Act.

Each step is pretty important and is only a force for good when combined with the others.

Lots of scary things going on: What should we really be afraid of?

The alarm went off the other day and I waited a few minutes for the news at the top of the hour. I was struggling with that great period between being asleep and awake (and definitely leaning toward being asleep) when they reported an 8.2 earthquake in Chile with tsunamis resulting.

Now I was awake.

Our son Nick is in Peru and I was worried about how close he might be. Would there be aftershocks? How far up the coast would the trouble go?

I felt concern as I got out of bed and went to the TV for more comprehensive coverage.

These things are happening more and more: Earthquakes, tsunamis, landslides, droughts, floods, tornados, fires, famine and starvation, planes disappearing, one country invading another, talks of war.

I would think that those in Chile during the quake were afraid. Very afraid. I think that anyone in that situation would be. You’d have to be kind of a robot not to feel something pretty terrifying.

Life can be pretty scary. We never really have an assurance that we will make it to the end of the day all in one piece, or even at all. We can’t guarantee the safety of those we love or keep them right at our feet all day to make sure they are okay.

So, how can we deal with all of these scary possibilities that could realistically happen to us at any moment?

Should we be afraid?

Going back to the earthquake in Chile, Ann and I listened carefully to the news to know what step to take next. We have phone numbers and contact information for Nick. Our passports are ready and the money for plane tickets is sitting in an account just in case. We didn’t have to waste time wondering how to do what needed to be done. We could focus instead just on what needed to be done.

As we listened and looked at maps, we knew that, for now, things are okay and the appropriate course of action was to do nothing but wait.

Because of that, our level of fear was ratcheted down to concern.

After that we read our scriptures together and had family prayer.

And we went on with our day.

I think there are scary things that are going on, and I think there are things that we should be appropriately afraid of.

I’m just not sure they are the same things.

We can make reasonable assessments of our surroundings and potential problems that may arise. For example, Ann and I have earthquake insurance on our home. It seems that there is a likely probability that we could experience that specific type of natural disaster, so it only makes sense to be prepared. We have 72 hour kits and a pretty healthy food storage. Our community practices natural disaster drills and we know exactly who to contact in case something happens so that we are accounted for and can offer our help.

More than that, I’m not sure what else we can do.

But you know, I don’t spend any time being afraid of an earthquake. We’ve done what we can. It will be a power far beyond any I can imagine and I can’t stop it. But I do know that Ann and I will pick up and move on, together.

But there is something that I would be afraid of: Not picking up and moving on with Ann.

Am I as prepared about that as I am for an earthquake?

These things are also happening more and more: Adultery, divorce, addictions that destroy relationships, rebellion, anger, apathy.

Given the choice, I’m more afraid of these than I am the natural things going on around me.

So what kind of insurance am I taking out to help me be ready for these potential disasters?

Would I make a reasonable assessment of our family and potential problems and come to the conclusion that it would not be very likely that we would experience any of the above?

That may be tempting seeing as how we are so darn happy.

But it would be foolish.

Just like our experience with the earthquake in Chile, Ann and I must be cautious to listen carefully each day to the words that are said and not said, the actions that happen and don’t happen. This helps us to know what step to take next.

We have put in the time and care to have open lines of communication, to watch and talk about concerns that come up before they become fears. It’s kind of like having our passports ready and money for plane tickets in an account. We don’t waste time trying to figure out how to do what we need to do, we can just focus on doing what we need to do.

And as we listen to each other and look into each other’s eyes, we know that, for now, things are okay.

Because of that, our level of fear is ratcheted down to watchful concern.

After that we read our scriptures together and have family prayer.

And we go on with our day.