One of the unfortunate developments of the past 4 years has been the normalizing of callousness, rudeness, childishness (in chronological adults), and the tendency to look at another person and quickly and harshly judge them as one's enemy. Someone to attack.
I'm not so naive that I would think these thoughts never existed before. Of course they did. But people filtered what they said to one degree or other because it was necessary to limit access to the mainstream of our nastier inner demons. The thoughts may have been there, but the words were far less likely to escape.
Sometimes, in an unguarded moment, we might blurt something out and then, embarrassed, nervously ask, 'Did I just say that out loud?'
That question came from shame. Because they knew that they had said something intemperate within earshot of someone whose opinion we value. Shame of that type has become a scarce commodity.
All these decent impulses not to give offense, even with our inner voice dying to lash out, seem quaint, like horses and buggies, in this era of 'I JUST SPEAK MY MIND.' The devaluation of tact has accelerated under a president of the United States who embodies all of the callous, rude, childish traits that have given license to these demons to run wild in our country.
At every turn, decent, reasonably polite people are battling an intellectual mindset that defaults to 'I KNOW YOU ARE, BUT WHAT AM I???'-level discourse. Labels like liberal, lefty, and socialist on the left and MAGAt, red hat, and fascist on the right leave us on simplistic islands with no honorable means of bridging what divides us.
This is by design. Much is made about the president's 'divisiveness.' By separating one another in ways that preclude any opportunity for meaningful dialogue, the architects of this strategy are literally dividing and conquering.
Whereas Ronald Reagan and Tip O'Neill, a philosophical odd couple of the '80s used to eat dinner together weekly, Donald Trump and Nancy Pelosi, who hold the same positions as Reagan and O'Neill, openly despise one another and take turns attacking with increasingly schoolyard-level foolishness. The world watches, imitates, and grows further apart.
Opinions as to 'who started it' or whose 'fault' it is are distractions. No one is covered with glory in this. And if a politician thinks they're 'above' being that way - as Mitt Romney and a few others think - they risk irrelevancy which is equivalent to weakness. Invisible is fixable but weakness is vilified by all and it's hard to recover from.
It used to be ridiculous hyperbole to suggest in an election that one's opponent's election would do irreparable harm to our democracy, our way of life, and our country itself. It happened all the time, but usually with a smirk.
We had our passions, but no one seriously believed that the difference between, for example, W. Bush and Gore was the difference between Armageddon and Disney Land. Differences, sure, but our country - our way of life - in danger? Bah.
The United States had withstood a Civil War, two world wars, a great depression, a number of somewhat more focused wars, three (now four) presidential impeachments, and a spate of terrorist attacks, including the most disgusting on September 11, 2001, without ever really worrying about things like fascism, socialism, jihadism, or any other -ism that might take the place of our beloved brand of democratic capitalism. Silly campaign rhetoric, right?
Well, here we are in 2020, which has been dreadful from the get-go. In the context of a global pandemic that has killed, at this writing, close to 140,000 Americans, political pundits are seriously discussing the real possibility that if he loses, the president will not leave the White House voluntarily. He will allege various wrongs, ranging from widespread voter fraud to deep state conspiracies to undermine the will of the people. And he will resist.
Before you casually assert that our country will survive, as it has in the past, remember the world has had superpowers as far back as anyone remembers. Some of the biggest in the ancient world were Egypt, Rome, Greece, Babylonia. In colonial times, Spain and Great Britain were powerful, world-leading empires who colonized many newly discovered parts of the world and ruled them for a long time.
Currently, the United States, and more recently China have been the most influential global powers. The Soviet Union has already disappeared, though Putin's Russia is trying to revive it, so far with limited success.
Is it really certain that the U.S. (243 years) or the Peoples Republic of China (71 years since their Communist revolution), will turn out to be more resilient than the Roman Empire (~500 years)?
In a world with nuclear weapons, extremely high technology, and global aspirations of various other countries, it's not hard to imagine a divided, complacent nation being successfully undermined and relegated to the status of an also-ran.
The coronavirus pandemic is not the only plague ongoing. In Africa, a second wave of locusts is destroying the food supplies of some of the poorest nations on earth.
In the United States, opioid-related drug overdose has caused the death of over 400,000 people since 1999. The fatality rate has accelerated over the past 5 years.
Wildfire in the western U.S. the past few summers have been getting bigger and harder to extinguish. And in Australia this year, fires burned nearly 39,000 square miles of land, equivalent to a circle with diameter stretching from Albany, NY to Philadelphia.
America's long-simmering racial tensions threaten to explode, due in large part to the outdated, irrational response of the Trump administration. In addition, we have regional divides, religious schisms, class warfare, and deep-seated contempt for science, poverty, immigration, and government assistance.
We often say that a particular problem or condition, 'is not the end of the world.' Though that statement has thus far been 100% accurate, at some point, the world will end.
The book of Revelation, the last in the Bible, describes a preview of the end of times. It describes a series of cataclysmic events including plagues, that will systematically bring the world to an end. We are currently undergoing the worst 'plague' in history and it is global. People are dying and the world's leaders are acting, in many places, like there is no need for a collaborative effort to help contain, eradicate, and prevent future outbreaks.
It is not 'drama' to suggest that the world is coming to an end. Nothing lasts forever except God and those whom He saves. And because God has an eternal perspective, He is closing it down according to His perfect plan and timing.
Even if you don't buy the 'end of the world' scenario, you must agree that all people die eventually, right?
If you haven't thought seriously about what will happen when you die, I respectfully suggest you do think about it. Those of us who are getting older may be confronting our aging and what our spiritual condition really is. It need not be a sad experience to do this, but it can be jarring.
But the thing is, it's all very simple. You ask God for His salvation. You thank Him for the sacrifice of his perfect Son for your many sins. You honestly and sincerely seek and accept Him and believe His promises.
At its core, that's it. You can say any of the following or you can use your own words:
"Lord, I don't understand it all, but I know I need you. I am a sinner and I am sorry but I want to be saved and become a good person. Thank you for your love and wonderful salvation, which I will never lose. Thank you for loving me. I love you too. In Jesus' name, AMEN!"
"Lord Jesus, save me!"
You don't need fancy words or an extended list of accomplishments, no matter how long. God knows what you've done, both Good and Bad, and He wants to save you anyway.
Not because you're 'good enough.' But because He loves you even though your not.
God bless you!
Jim Donaher is a writer, blogger, and author of the soon to be published, "Call Him, He's Home: Learning Prayer to Start and Grow Your Relationship with God" Click the title to read an excerpt.
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