Just a few years ago while training for my current job I was able to go to Washington, DC for the first time. My peers wanted to go to one of several Smithsonian Museums, the White House or stroll along the Reflecting Pool. My chief destination was the Lincoln Monument. Despite the crowds of people, the noise and general irreverence I was surrounded by…I wept. I read the words etched in the stone surrounding the edifice and my eyes poured. This man lead a divided country during one of the most painful times in our American History. His words were sympathetic and eloquent. He had no fear of offending the public in calling upon God or discussing him within his speeches. However, despite the mark this man had on our history as a nation, his election was kindling for the succession of the south and the subsequent Civil War. (No he did not cause the war, but the south refused to honor the democratic process.)
This brings me to yesterday’s inauguration. I realized during the “peaceful transfer of power” that there is a degree of shame in being an American these days. Don’t get mad at me, follow what I am saying. I love my country. I respect the democratic process of our government. I respect the adversarial aspect of our legal system. I respect the office of the President and various other statesmen. I am ashamed of what our country is devolving too.
Riots In The Street
I worked with disadvantaged youth. One of my son’s struggled with anger management. I worked with gang members in the correctional system. Frankly, I had a temper when I was young as well. I understand that some people feel the only way to be heard is to “act out”. Breaking things, screaming and such bring attention and perhaps provide a moment of release, but it does not make the actions right. The first riot I remember was after the Rodney King verdict. I cannot fathom destroying your own community. I cannot imagine hurting the very neighbors that you feel have been disparged. Rioting and looting have no place in the action of change. I support peaceful protesting. You want to have a sit-in, a march, boycott a business, generate petitions and file your grievances in town halls or other assemblies…you have that right. It is part of the Constitution…the same Constitution that outlines our democratic process of electing officials.
In fact, the freedom of speech and to petition our government was so important to the founders of our country they made that the First Amendment. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”
President Trump stated in his address that it was time to give America back to the people. Despite any rhetoric he has spouted in the past I could not agree more. Read the First Amendment again, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” No law respect and establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. It is my right to exercise my faith. (The ACLU will disagree, but that is a whole other can of worms. How can you call yourself the American Civil Liberties Union and work to suppress the Constitutional Freedoms of Christians to exercise their faith?)
Rosa Parks did not riot on the bus. She simply refused to move. The Greensboro sit-ins of the 60’s were not riotous, they peacefully refused to move and endured great abuses in taking their stand. Determination, intelligent speech and God’s grace empowered the peaceful actions to be burned in the consciousness of America. I do not want the American people to be disparaged against. If you are Muslim and a citizen of this country, by the Constitution you have the same rights as I do. The same goes for any other religious or cultural group. I want you to feel safe in our communities and in our country. The US Armed Forces protects our freedoms and we squander them DAILY. We mock our freedoms when we justify rioting as protests or support profanity and hate speech as freedom of speech.
I am not a fan of Trump. Let’s just clear the air on that now. I was not a fan of Obama, either. Every President leaves office with a contribution to this country, as well as, something they pushed that leaves us in worse shape in some scope. It is the dichotomy of leadership. Even the best leaders cannot be all things to all people. In my mind, President Clinton and NAFTA were salt in a wound. My Father has worked in a factory his whole life and the company moved a segment of operations to Mexico, because of NAFTA. President Obama brought healthcare and implemented guidelines so that we could all be insured. He pushed the process and now we have American’s who will go bankrupt trying to afford healthcare or pay penalties. (If you are paying penalties, how are you going to pay your medical bill?) President Obama usurped the democratic process by making Executive decisions to make things happen. It appears President Trump will utilize that same strategy to make things happen. Executive decision was never meant to be a “magic wand” for the President to get what he wanted. If that is the case we might as well crown a king. Executive orders should only occur when we are in crisis, because to wait on the democratic process would cause further harm to the safety of our troops or our nation.
We have seen liberals and conservatives alike pray. We have seen kindness and we have seen cruelty from our leaders. I do not believe President Trump to be pure evil, nor do I believe that about former President Obama. They are simply men. Men with different points of view, driven by the experiences of their past and the perspective they have from their seat in history. This can be said of every American…every human.
President Lincoln in his second inaugural address states the following about the North and the South, “Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God’s assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces, but let us judge not, that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes. ‘Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh.’ If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said ‘the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether’.”
A few years ago I read these words and re-read these words at the Lincoln Monument. I kept coming back to the line that “both read the same Bible and pray to the same God”. Certainly we have a variety of religions in our country, but even among fellow Christians the division is obvious when it comes to politics. I confess I did not vote in this election, not by choice…paperwork glitch. I could never have voted for Hillary Clinton. I have no respect for her as a woman or leader. I acknowledge the strides she has made and the glass ceilings she shattered. I respect the office’s she has held, but not her. I want to see a female President, but not her.
It would have been hard to vote for Trump. His rhetoric and lack of polish are harsh. He seems to have no filters, whatever comes to his mind, comes out of his mouth. If I look at things he has done and ignore his mouth (difficult to do), I see a successful man. I read stories of random acts of kindness. I see a successful business man with a successful family. (I might vote for Ivanka Trump.) Actions speak louder than words and President’s Trump is just starting his shift at the helm of our country. I pray he steers us well.
What Is The Point?
The ballots were cast and President Trump won the election. Stop complaining. Stop rioting. Start praying. Pray fervently for the President and all our political leaders. Work to bring unity in the midst of all the division. Stop unfriending people because they were pro-Trump or Pro-Clinton. Stop posting negative, nasty comments about either political party and PRAY. Call a corporate prayer in your church or neighborhood. Pray for unification of our country. Pray for God to be present in the hearts of our leaders. Petition, peacefully assemble and notify your government what the people want. Encourage one another instead of ripping each other apart. Start listening to hear and stop listening to respond and defend.
Most of all, remember the opposition has their story too. We all carry a perspective colored by the experiences of our past. If President Trump is able to deliver on a fraction of what was promised in his inaugural address, I will be thankful. The government was never meant to be a multi-million dollar industry cranking out wealthy statesmen. Most of those who represent American’s have no idea what being a blue collared American is really like. We do need to make America great again. That starts with you and I on our knees in prayer. It starts with acts of kindness toward one another. It is being the vessel for God to pour into others.
What’s the point? Surrender this to God. Pray. Don’t pray for your wishes and desires, pray for the important things. Pray for the souls of the leaders, that they would be open to the instruction of God. Get in your bible and speak life over our government and its leaders. That is how we fuel change. Stop judging others and jumping to conclusions. Pray. When the opposition rakes your nerves…pray. Be quick to prayer and slow to anger.
One last thing…apologize to those with different views. Don’t apologize for what you believe, apologize if you delivered your message through a veil of anger, rage or hate. I believe in the Bible and the Constitution. I make no apologies for that, but if I have ever been cruel or unkind I apologize. We all get caught up in the fire and passion of what we believe, let’s pray for God to temper our delivery so that our message, our personal truth can be heard.