Friday, September 2, 2011

Sticks and Stones

You remember the old saying, "sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me"?  I don't agree with the  premise though... words do matter.  Robert Fulghum's "All I really need to know I learned in kindergarten" doesn't specifically mention our words, but would be a great blueprint for all of us to practice, especially our elected officials.  My daughter Sarah, teaches second graders in Indy and she is still teaching and reinforcing these common sense principles: the golden rule; please and thank you; respect others; hum, it must be really important.

Name calling... uncivil discourse; this isn't my favorite topic, but enough is enough.  Congress is on summer recess, the race for the White House is just heating up, and during this slow period I was grasping for a hot current topic.  It was the last straw; this week an Indiana congressman has joined the chorus of hate speech. U.S. Representative Andre Carson (D, IN) from Indianapolis is now a YouTube hit.  While speaking in Miami, as a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, Carson spews, "the Tea Party movement would love to see black Americans hanging on a tree". The full context of his speech does not exempt him from this hateful, despicable language, it reinforces it. Speak for yourself congressman, but I am not a racist. I didn't realize that challenging Congress to be more fiscally responsible, was a racist action. I'm used to hearing these kinds of statements from politicians on the Left coast; Representative Maxine Waters (D, CA) is a classic hatemonger, but from the modest, temperate, polite Midwest?  Indianapolis?

I'm not naive or pure as the white, driven snow... I realize politics is a contact sport and some of today's confrontations pale to the days when Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton had their own duel.  Can you imagine the political fallout if our current Vice President, Joe Biden shot and killed Henry Paulson (former Treasury Secretary) in a gunfight!  However, I find it interesting that our President does not call out those of his own party, including his own Vice President, when they disregard his own challenge to move our political discourse to a more civil level. Remember when Obama lectured us in January about being more civil as he politicized the Gabby Giffords tragedy?

We are far removed from the days when political arguments were over differing viewpoints, not mean-spirited personal character attacks.  There's nothing wrong with healthy political debate over policy or philosophy, that's part of what makes America great, but the name calling must stop!  I held opposing political views from those of the late United States Senator from Minnesota, Hubert Humphrey, but he is one of my political heros because... he treated his political opponents with respect.  He was a man of integrity and character... a class act.

In the Epistle of James, we are warned about the power of the tongue and its ability to be used for both good and bad.  "But no man can tame the tongue.  It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.  With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God.  Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing.  My brethren, these things ought not to be so" (James 3: 8-10, NKJV).  Today, as we speak our minds and participate in the political dialog, let's present ourselves in an honorable way and "watch our tongue".  


Saturday, July 30, 2011

...if My people...

In 1952, Congress enacted a National Day of Prayer.  It was amended in 1988 to specify the first Thursday in May each year.  Spring has passed and we are in the dog days of summer, but now, more than ever, is a time to pause and pray for our nation.  The apostle Paul instructs Timothy, "Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence" (I Timothy 2: 1-2). 

This week our leaders in Washington D.C. are addressing very critical issues and the political environment is as contentious as I can recall in recent memory.  An event took place last Thursday that most media outlets either ignored or reported in a negative light.  Five Republican congressmen from South Carolina, Jeff Duncan, Mick Mulvaney, Trey Gowdy, Tim Scott, and Joe Wilson, all were holdouts to Speaker of the House John Boehner's "compromise deal" legislation to raise the nation's debt ceiling another 900 Billion dollars (the 75th time in our history).  Three of these men, Duncan, Mulvaney, and Scott, felt led to meet in the Capitol chapel to pray and seek God's guidance and direction.  What a refreshing response from elected officials.

Our national debt is currently $14 Trillion plus ... I'm still trying to figure out how increasing the amount of money we can borrow will decrease our spending, lower our interest expense, and reform our entitlement programs that are nearly bankrupt and will soon be of no value to anyone.  I realize a "Balanced Budget Amendment" to the constitution is being championed by many conservatives.  They say this will force us to "live within our means".  Does this also allow us to increase taxes to "balance the budget" if Congress proves unsuccessful in reducing spending?   

As this week has unfolded, I was tempted to use the title "It's Tea Time!" and commend the true conservatives who simply believe "enough is enough"; it's time to stop the insanity and let the chips fall where they may.  I believe they are principled and wise leaders.  Connie Mack, a Republican Senator from Florida, has introduced the "Penny Plan", an "extreme" idea: Let's reduce our federal spending one penny for every dollar in our federal budget.  By reducing our spending 1% over the next 6 years ... we would BALANCE THE BUDGET!  How many of us do you think would have difficulty saving $1 for every $100 in our household budgets?  I know, it's too simple a concept; but isn't it amazing that the "tea party" conservatives are the ones who are "extreme" and want to drive this country over the cliff but Big government liberals who have contributed the most (but not all, unfortunately) are the ones who are "reasonable" and are trying to save this country?  Am I missing something...?  We need to stop enabling the addict...I think it's time we pay the piper and suffer the consequences of our irresponsible actions. 

Upon further reflection, instead of Tea Time, I think it's Prayer Time.  I challenge all of us who sincerely love this country and her exceptionalism, hope for America's continued blessings and her historical fight for liberty, to PRAY FOR AMERICA today, tomorrow, and every day.  If nonbelievers take control and jeopardize our God-given freedoms, then we are given a mandate to intercede and trust God to restore godliness to our nation.  

God spoke to Solomon in 2 Chronicles 7: 14, "...if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land."  I am especially encouraged by the last three words of this passage!  Did you know that both Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan choose this passage to place their hands when they took their presidential oaths of office?          

Thursday, June 23, 2011

...under God, indivisible...

I'm sure it was just an honest mistake, a simple oversight; besides, who really can remember all the words of such a complicated pledge, congressionally mandated in 1942 and amended in 1954?

"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." 

NBC's patriotic video broadcast last weekend during the U.S. Open golf tournament outside our Capitol in Bethesda, MD to honor our soldiers included a clip of our Pledge of Allegiance.  The problem is, it was not our Pledge of Allegiance.  Our pledge has 31 words, not 28!  I'm always amazed when the media chooses to revise history.  Note to NBC for future reference:  if you don't agree with an historical document, instead of changing it to meet your views ... DON'T USE IT!

NBC's "version":

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

After an outcry from offended Americans, NBC offered a non-apology of their decision to blatantly remove any reference to God, our creator: We are sorry ... if anyone was offended!

The intentional actions by many in the media, and leaders in our government and educational institutions to rewrite our nation's history is a sad commentary today.  Be alert...stay involved, and let your voice be heard!    



Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Stand With Israel

What a refreshing display of strong, wise leadership yesterday in our United States Congress!  I was very heartened to see the unwavering support expressed by our Representatives in Washington D.C. as they stood and applauded Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.  His address was right on; powerful and one of the best declarations of truth and I have witnessed.  America citizens ... we must always stand with Israel.  The current events in the Middle East are troubling and this is a very critical time in history.  Let your voices be heard; pray for the nation of Israel!