Sometimes I feel like I’m living a nightmare. The country I cherish seems to be twisting into something unrecognizable. Every day I turn on the news. Every day I read my computer screen, shake my head and wonder if the time will ever come when I’ll just stop caring. Because caring about this country, the place that I consider a blessing from God yet is being swallowed by her people, has left me weary.
It’s not that change is bad. Technology, science, education, access-all of these things contribute to change. At the beginning of the industrial age, I imagine the smoke stacks that suddenly blocked the rising sun were quite unsettling. I’m sure the noises and smells of a growing, bustling new city were offensive to those whose lives had risen with the cock of the rooster and ended with the evening stars. Change is wonderful in the way it forces us to evolve and mature or grow into new ideas. Change challenges us to explore what we’ve already learned and appreciate the generation before us. When it’s thoughtful, deliberate and prayerfully done, change can be glorious. Change brought us women in the workplace, integration and flying machines. But it’s also brought us war, genocide and the slow fade of a Superpower.
I believe I was born with the stars and stripes imprinted on my beating heart. I have loved our America for as long as I can remember. Prideful in where I belong; where my feet are firmly planted. I loved traveling overseas because there was always this immense joy of coming home. Of taking that first step back onto US soil because somehow I was safe here. The world was for play but my home, this piece of imperfect rock, was comfort.
I mourn for the things we are losing. The tiny and the enormous, the seemingly mundane in a fast-paced world too busy to stop and remember the beauty that was being slow. I cringe at those empty cries for change. The lines that keep shifting and blurr until they are ragged and worn. Because the cry is no longer to God-it is to man.
All cried out to a select few who are just as imperfect as those of us who put them there. It used to be that those few were principled. Even in their narrowness they shouted out of love for this country. But now, I’m afraid, too many have fallen into a mire of their own making. Politics has replaced service.
I think it happens when all of this becomes too easy. When we forget that doing hard is a part of life-the part that can make it sweeter. So long ago the difficult work was not done by a few but by most. So the most worked and lived and breathed together in their sweat and tears. They waited seasons to see the fruits of their labor and in the meantime they worked harder still. It taught them not count on what was right in front of them but to plan for an uncertain future. And now we despair over the time it takes to get from one place or another even though our time means less because it was not earned in that same arduous way.
Everyone’s crying for change but change came today because yesterday is gone. But still they cry because we have gotten used to easy. We have gotten fat on now. Somewhere we got lost in us and I fear we may never come back.
So my pledge is to start with where I am and where I am is at home with four beautiful souls. I promise to teach them the beauty of this land. I promise to teach them that there is always a chance for tomorrow as long as we have hope. I will teach them that there is one God. They will know that, no matter what, He is King. I will remind them that they have a responsibility to honor those who came before us-who died so we may be free. I will tell them that leading means serving others. That the character of a man is indicative of his faith, his heart and his home. I will warn them that nothing in this world comes without a price and that price might take everything.
I look at them and I see a chance for a new beginning. A new that starts with the old because the old wasn’t just good enough-it was great. I make a choice to put my weariness aside and push ahead. I think Thomas Paine said it best so I will end with this. Be courageous my friends and may the change we so desperately need begin within our own four walls:
THESE are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value.