Posts Tagged ‘America


Soul Force – Lest We Forget a Great Man

“As my wonderful wife @Rep_Giffords continues to make progress, let us all pause and reflect on this MLK day,” Tweet from Mark Kelly.

The words themselves are not profound, but they are well-timed. The wisdom of Martin Luther King, Jr. is exactly what this country needs right now. Perhaps tensions were somewhat cooled by the holidays, but as gas prices, food prices, health care prices, and interest rates rise this spring, we are bound to find ourselves suspended in revolutionary tension once again. As with any unspeakable tragedy, there are lessons to be taken from January 8th, lessons that meld beautifully with MLK’s legacy, if only we take notice.

Martin Luther King led a revolution. This nation is forever changed for the better, thanks to his leadership. As a rule, change without violence happens slowly. Without his peaceful example, it could have taken decades to recognize the human cost of racism and segregation. For years, we could have suffered the damage wrought by an oppressed population as the nation crumbled economically and spiritually. With the competing Black Panther movement of the day, there may have been widespread bloodshed, leading to fear and desperation. Desperation takes hold when mankind is rent of the unalienable rights endowed by our Creator. Believe in The Almighty or not, it is accepted wisdom that a man threatened by captivity is a dangerous man. Freedom is a gift straight from the Lord, the gift of freewill. History shows that men will more easily lay down their lives for freedom than any other force.

The human desire for freedom is the beast to appease. That which gives strength to fight to the death is also the greatest weakness. Every infamous leader has understood the precious weight of freedom, and the ability or inability of the citizens to carry such weight. Do Americans still have the stamina to uphold this? Jared Loughner, like Timothy McVeigh and even King’s assassin James Earl Ray, was convinced he would protect freedom, but the violence did nothing but impede his cause. Every time someone abuses his rights in the name of preserving freedom, freedom is compromised.

As in Martin Luther King, Jr’s time, I believe the US stands precariously. We are threatened by economic and social challenges as the world around us changes more quickly than we can react. Our superpower status has been eroded and will continue to do so unless we can unite under an ideology of greatness. As we talk about our fight for freedom, we should understand that the way to freedom was paved for us. Centuries of sons were lost on battlefields to accomplish the conditions under which a nation like ours could be founded. The United States carries a mantle to protect these conditions, to ensure that people can live, trade, and thrive freely throughout the world. We need to protect our economic prowess by reigning in spending and we need to be peacekeepers.
Finally, we must define greatness. It is obvious that we have forgotten the meaning. Greatness is that which allows us to be free – it is strength, courage, justice, and the responsibility to uphold these virtues even above personal interest.

Martin Luther King, Jr. gave us a legacy that possibly sustained us as a nation. He gave us this: “We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline… Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.”


Waiting for September 12th

My friend hasn’t slept through the night in about two months.  My husband’s ulcer has flared up.  My coworker is completely despondent.  I cannot seem to hold food down.  Nobody is willing to put a guarantee on what may happen tomorrow.  First I thought it was just me.  I usually live in the worst-case scenario.  But it is not just me.  Not at all. 

The bumper stickers are calling us to be our 9/12 self.  The idea is that we live as the best American we can, like we did on that day when we all resolved to live a life of purpose.  That’s exactly how we should be living.  I would guess that if we all lived in that mind set, we would not be in the position we are today.

But here we are.  Entitlement, greed, and quick fixes have brought us to the brink of economic disaster.  It’s so much more than that.  Everything we take for granted – our national security, our safety, innovation, the environmental debate, even the abortion controversy – will lie forgotten if our economy fails.  So we replace our dreams and the hopes we have for our children with Tums and Tylenol PM.  What we did not notice, because it crept in behind the distraction of the holidays, is that we cannot be our 9/12 selves because we are re-living 9/11 in slow motion.  It is as though Good Morning America has been doing a frame-by-frame since the first plane came into sight.  Slowly, with time to contemplate and fear, we are watching our world change forever.  And, once again, we are not in control.  It is being done to us and we are but spectators, anticipating impact, just waiting for the frames to speed up.  On 9/11, it happened fast.  I remember looking around at every intersection on my way to work.  Everyone was stunned; at one light, all six lanes of traffic sat through a green.  Then at work all of us speculated, some cried.  Many checked on loved ones.  Nobody worked.  We all held our breath and listened for news instead.  Then we went home to our families, held them close, thanked God, and planned for a better tomorrow.  That’s when America united. 

I learned the true meaning of Joy on the evening of September 11th.  There were flags everywhere.  Donations were flying in before anyone even knew where to send them and the media had nothing disparaging to say.  In fact, many talking heads were teary.  Joy is not synonymous with happiness.  Joy is the assurance that trials are temporary.  The pain may linger, but with it comes the sweetly honed pleasure of the memories left from the good times and the hope for tomorrow. 

Hope.  Hope is a strong word.  It is what gives Americans their strength.  There is no nation on earth that offers the promise this country does.  Even now that we are bruised, we can still rest in a hope we take for granted.  But right now, right at this moment, we are watching that plane.  We are wondering if we get to hold onto our hope.  What we need to do, to move on and become our 9/12 selves, is re-evaluate hope.  In this time, we cannot count put our hope into anything that we cannot control.  It has to be personal and we have to be strong enough to hold on.

We may be holding on for September 12th, but it is actually here.  We may feel downtrodden and fearful and just barely American.  But we need to remember something.  This weekend, people will be married.  Right now, a baby is crying for the very first time.  There is a teenage girl talking to her best friend about her first kiss.  A boy in second grade is tugging the hair of the girl in front of him.  Next month, we may not be able to buy a Chevrolet and we may even cancel trips to Disney World this summer, but life still carries on.  No matter the nation we leave to our children, the human spirit is the true gift we leave behind.  If we can show them joy in the midst of adversity, they will grow into joyous lives.  Fear and dread are far outweighed by our capacity to love.  Where love lives, so does hope.  Where hope lives, so does greatness.

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