Tuesday, November 04, 2008

What a Country!

I have been watching the TV with great interest this evening and I have had a ringside seat to history being made. How many other countries in this world can have such a peaceful transition of power amongst major parties? Senator McCain's concession speech was one of the most gracious speeches I have heard. I believe that was the real John McCain on display this evening and perhaps the outcome would have been different if he had more consistently come across that way during the campaign. The words of President Bush, in his congratulatory call to Senator Obama, were also very gracious, promising a smooth transition. Finally Senator Obama's speech tonight had kind words of praise for Senator McCain and his outstanding service and sacrifice for our country over many, many years. Whether the candidate you supported won or lost, you have to respect and admire the peaceful process and the way our democracy works.

What now? I don't know about you, but I am so very tired of the deep division between the parties that has been displayed over the past sixteen years. There is very little bi-partisanship displayed and that is the only way we can have real progress. I still have hope because I saw the way our country came together and put aside all differences after 9-11, if only for a relatively short time. The unity displayed at the time was the true America. Can we achieve that on a regular basis? Perhaps not, but I don't think we need to give up on that goal and we can do better. (I also think President Bush blew a fantastic opportunity to bring lasting unity to the country and a working relationship between the parties right after 9-11 -- my opinion.)

What can we as individuals do? We can pray. We must pray for our leaders. We must pray for God's guidance. We must work for unity without compromising our deeply held values. Did I agree with all that either candidate stood for? Absolutely not. Do I need to support the man elected, whether I voted for him or not? I believe I must. Why? For one thing, Barack Obama will be my president. I am an American and he will be my President and I must pray for him and lift him up every day asking for God to give him wisdom and lead him in the path that is best for our country, just as I would have if Senator McCain was elected. I must pray for all the congressmen, congresswomen, senators and all those in government. If my man or woman was not elected, I can be disappointed, but I must not allow myself to be bitter. I can write and voice my opinion as to what change I would like or what direction I would like us to go in key issues. But, again I say, I must pray.

I congratulate Senator Obama and Senator Biden on a remarkable achievement. I lived through the 50's and 60's and witnessed the injustices and saw the struggle that people went through to achieve the basic rights that were theirs. I grew up in upstate NY and mostly witnessed these things on TV. However, when I was a Junior in High School in 1961, I went on a trip to Mississippi. One night at dark, before we got to Mississippi, we drove past a KKK rally with a huge burning cross in the field and many people in white, hooded robes standing around and walking down the highway toward the rally and I was appalled. I saw state troopers directing traffic and I was appalled. Then later I saw a gas station restroom with a sign that said, "WHITES ONLY." I was appalled (and the room was filthy and this white boy didn't want to use it anyway). Then, in a village park was a water fountain and it had a sign that said, "WHITES ONLY" and I was appalled.

When I was in college, James Meredith came and spoke to us. A few years earlier he fought to attend the University of Mississippi. He finally won a lawsuit that allowed him to attend, but over the course of several days when he tried to attend, the governor of Mississippi blocked his way. Finally at the end of September 1962, a force of U.S. Marshals went with him to guard him. That evening white students began rioting and firing on the marshals guarding him. Two bystanders were killed, 28 marshals suffered gunshot wounds, and 160 other marshals were injured. President Kennedy sent in regular Army troops and James was able to begin attending classes. When he described his struggles to attend college classes with tears rolling down his cheeks, I was ashamed because I realized I didn't want to attend some classes because they were too early in the morning and I wanted to sleep in.

Over the years I have heard the racist comments from friends and sometimes family, including on occasion from my own dad that shocked me. And now we have elected our first black President! Watching the race riots on television in the 60's, I never would have thought this could happen in my lifetime. We have come a long way.

Now, I hope that race will NEVER be an issue in the future and we will only look at the candidate's qualifications and his or her stand on the issues. Have we settled this issue for ever? Perhaps not, but we have come a long way! 2008 has proven than any child born in the USA can grow up to be President and our democratic process still works.

Romans 13:1-7 says:
1 Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2 Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. 4 For he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience. 6 This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God's servants, who give their full time to governing. 7 Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.

Pray the authorities live up to and follow their God given responsibilities.


Carly said...

What a great outlook on this whole thing! Preach on!

Loren said...

Hi John, admnittedly I do not comment much but did want to add to this particular topic.

For some Christians Romans 13 has been interpretted as a commnand from God to assume unlimited submissiveness to governmemt. Because of this misconception we have seen family and church life erode greatly over time. It is as if government has replaced God. The thinking seems to be that God provides one thing and that is all, salvation, all else comes from government. If we are to believe that government is ordained by God, then all laws would have to be the same, and somehow I am betting some of them do not make muster when all is said and done.

Good government is ordained by God, but not all government is good.

Government officials are to be good ministers who represent God. This I believe is key.

We the people must obey good and godly laws.

As we relate Romans 13 to America, our Constitution is the higher power -- not the IRS tax code.

Good government is not to be feared.

In America, we are to pay honor and custom and constitutional taxes to whom it is due.

Government is to protect the righteous and punish the wicked.

God and God alone deserves unlimited obedience.

Pat said...

John, I thank you for your words of wisdom about the election. I appreciate your tempered views. And like you, I am old enough to remember the bad old days (like you, I grew up in the north and so my memories are televised images but nonetheless stark and haunting). When the decision was called on Tuesday evening, I ran to find Larry and found that tears obstructed my words. I discovered a depth of emotion that surprised me.....I wept with pride that American with all its long history of racial bias could make this monumental move.

Like you, I found myself thinking that during John McCain's concession speech that were seeing the 'real' man, one unhindered by his handlers ideas of who and what he should be and project. And for the first time during this election process I saw a man with a gracious and generous heart who spoke the words of a real leader when he said that he would follow his president and serve his beloved country. What might the outcome have been if he had shown himself in this light and not the mean-spirited, small-minded, petty man he displayed for the last months. And frankly, I feel the same way about Hillary who has shown herself to be gracious and generous in defeat. I wonder what that is really about......

Anonymous said...

Very well said! Thanks!