America in the year 2018. Who are we? Who do we want to be? Lately these two questions have been on my septuagenarian mind. If you are not already reflecting on these questions and wondering about your contribution to the future character of our country, I invite you to do so.
It seems we have gradually drawn bold lines of tribal identity and become hostile to those who don’t share our tribe’s characteristics or beliefs. This can be observed in our behavior and views concerning religion, race, politics, culture, and other areas.
These bold tribal lines need to be erased. We can be one nation, culturally diverse, yet united.
Some of us like to say that America is a Christian nation. For me this has become little more than a dishonest soundbite to make American Christians feel good. I am a practicing Christian, yet I observe how some of those among us, particularly elected leaders, publicly proclaim themselves Christian yet repeatedly acted in un-Christian ways.
One only needs to look at our Christian forefathers and their history of conquering this land and the treatment of the original inhabitants of the land to debunk the myth of a Christian nation.
Look at how we developed the early nation on the backs of slaves and how we treat our black and brown brothers, sisters, and children today both at the border and in the heartland.
On the other hand, I also see so many wonderful Christian and non-Christian men and women making great sacrifices of love to help the poor and vulnerable. I admire these courageous laborers.
The problem is that these kind souls are stuck in a broken self-perpetuating system. It is a system driven by power, money, influence, and greed. It is a system that seems to keep hard-working men and women struggling while benefiting the tiny minority at the very top of the economic structure.
The future state of our country does not have to reflect today’s situation. There are better alternatives. These alternatives require that, as we seek solutions, we not let the divisive, unhelpful, harmful speech and actions coming from our current national and state elected leaders guide or control us.
In our democratic republic, regardless of how it may be flawed, we do have a voice. That voice is the ballot. We can vote out those agents of division and hate and instead elect people who reflect the idealism and love of neighbor that we share with much of the rest of humanity. These values are found at the uncorrupted core of the world’s the great religions.
Voters have choices to make at the ballot box in 2018. Choose wisely. Our children and grandchildren are watching. What kind of country and world will you bequeath to them? Each one of us is part of the problem, but more importantly we are key to the solution.
Peachtree City, Ga.