America


How little do my countrymen know what precious blessings they are in possession of, and which no other people on Earth enjoy!  -Thomas Jefferson

America is a blessed nation.  Like no other place on earth, we are fantastically wealthy.

90% of American teenagers own a computer and a cell phone.  Our public high schools offer free and equal education to all, giving every single girl or boy with the vision to take it a huge head start in life.  We have enough to eat…very few Americans are forced to skip meals.  Millions of African children are starving and malnourished…millions of Americans are overweight.  We can walk into any grocery store and see more food in seconds then many third world countries will see in a year.

Any time we are in trouble or danger, we can pick up a phone, dial 911, and receive free assistance from state emergency workers who are diligently trained to save lives and fight crime.  If your house is on fire, local firefighters will be there within seconds to protect the home that you hold dear.  If your life is being threatened, policemen and women will be there to help you.  If you are sick, state emergency workers will be there to take care of you, whether you are a multi-millionaire or a homeless person living on the streets.  And if you even just want to send a letter to your mom or dad, your brother or sister, your grandparent or your best friend, you can stick a $0.42 stamp on the upper right-hand corner of a paper envelope and drop it in a mail slot.  Without paying any kind of subscription fee, your loved one will be reading your words within days.  We are incredibly blessed.

Whenever we want, we can travel from New York to Los Angeles without paying a toll to pass through each state.  Every year, we have a say in who our officials will be.  We do not have to pay a cent in order to cast the votes that will help determine the future of our children and our children’s children.  How quickly we forget what a blessing this is.  How quickly we forget the thousands of men and women who have died in defense of this right.

Americans complain about President Bush and the War in Iraq.  Have we forgotten?  Every single deployed soldier is a volunteer.  We are fighting with 100% volunteer troops.  Praise God, President Bush has protected the nation from a general draft.  Citizens derail, mock, scorn, threaten, and hate the leader of our nation.  Have we forgotten that Tuesday morning in 2001 when millions of Americans were in terror for the future?  No more attacks have occurred on our soil in the years since September 11th.  President Bush has done a fine job of protecting the spoiled Americans who hate him, and so have the excellent men and women who are putting their lives on the line by putting on a soldier’s uniform and fighting to protect the ungrateful families “back home”.  Theirs is a thankless job, and it is often worse than thankless.  One of my best friends is now training in Marine boot camp.  He has been mocked and called a “baby killer” while in uniform.  He is risking his own life, his own bright future, for American families.  My friend is fighting to protect the right of Americans to mock him.  He is fighting to protect the rights, free speech included, of those who hate him.  I am thankful for our volunteer armies, and I praise God for them.

We are a spoiled, pampered people.  We are richly blessed and sickeningly ungrateful.  We have more than any other nation on this earth.  Americans need a wake-up call.  September 11th may have been that wake-up call, but we have forgotten it.  We need to get outside of ourselves and our selfish worlds and complaints.  Even with a struggling economy, we are still richer and fatter than any other people group alive.  Even with gas prices rising and falling like the 757’s that transport us from “sea to shining sea”, we are still spending time with our loved ones at every holiday.

Chose today to give yourself a reality check.  Open your eyes and look around you.  Stop being blinded by complaints and woes and worries.  Remember what Jesus said, “Which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? …Tomorrow will take care of itself.”  Stop reading alarmist articles by ungrateful journalists and pundits.  And start being thankful.  Look around you at this beautiful country.  There is so much diversity here…deserts and beaches, mountains and plains, lush farm lands and advanced cities, golden prairies and rolling hills, canyons and vistas, snow-capped mountaintops and balmy oceansides.  In any city at any time, we can hear dozens of different languages being spoken.  That’s because millions of people all across the world have heard of the opportunities offered in America and have left everything they knew to come here.  They have literally risked their lives in just the hope of receiving the benefits and liberties we enjoy every day without even thinking about it.  This truly is the land of opportunity.  How many of your ancestors made the journey here in hope of better things for themselves and their children.  You are one of those children.  When was the last time you thanked God for the sacrifices they made to ensure your happiness?

Thank God for what you have.  Make a decision to stop being ungrateful, and to start thanking Him for everything you have.  Make a decision to change.  And then start working to change the things you don’t like.

After all, you can do that. 

Because this is America.

Where annual elections end, there slavery begins. -John Quincy Adams

Did you vote?  Voting is one of the most important duties an American can render.  When you put your voice in the ballot box, then you let your country know what you want.  You are part of change.  You are helping to determine the future of your children.  You are changing the lives of a generation as yet unborn.

There can no longer be anyone too poor to vote. -Lyndon B. Johnson

Our elections are free -it’s in the results where eventually we pay. -Bill Stern

We all pay in the results of our elections.  Even those who don’t vote have to obey the laws of the land.  There are no exceptions.  If you don’t vote, you are paying the price for something you didn’t purchase.

Does the government fear us? Or do we fear the government? When the people fear the government, tyranny has found victory. The federal government is our servant, not our master! -Thomas Jefferson

We, the people of America, are the bosses.  We decide who to put in the government.  We pay their salaries.  We listen to them debate and interview and give us their pitch, and then we decide.  If we like the way our elected officials from past years have performed, we re-elect them.  If we don’t…we fire them. 

Your every voter, as surely as your chief magistrate, exercises a public trust.  -Grover Cleveland

Stay informed and vote.  You will pay the salaries of these men and women whether you know what they are doing to your country or not.  Read, listen, watch, pay attention.  Know what’s going on in your house.  Keep an eye on what your elected officials are doing.  Vote to have a say in who gets hired.

Posterity, you will never know how much it cost the present generation to preserve your freedom. I hope you will make good use of it. If you do not, I shall repent in heaven that ever I took half the pains to preserve it. -John Adams

Our Founding Fathers fought for it.  They risked their lives for it.  Many men and women have died for it.  For what?  For your freedom.  For your liberty.  For your opportunity to have a say in the futures of your children.  I believe in freedom.  I am grateful to the generations before me for preserving it.  They have passed the torch to us…what will we do with it?  Don’t let it burn out.  Keep the lamp of freedom lit.  Cling to your rights.  Know what the Constitution says.  Work to put officials in office who will enforce the Constitution and our freedoms.  Be an enlightened citizen.

The future of this republic is in the hands of the American voter.  -Dwight D. Eisenhower

The Virginia Convention on the ratification of the Constitution was just getting started on June 4, 1788, when George Nicholas stood up to speak. This beloved soldier and patriot was said to have been the first man to fire a shot against the British as they invaded Philadelphia. Those on the floor were concerned that the newborn Constitution would prove too weak to prevent future tyranny and so would bring about the abolition of the freedom these young colonies had so recently fought to win.

“An enlightened people,” said Nicholas, “Will never suffer what was established for their security to be perverted to an act of tyranny.”

This statement was simple, but it made all the difference. The Convention members understood his meaning. An enlightened citizenship would never allow power-hungry men to twist the original meaning of the Constitution into something which would suppress their freedom. The founding fathers had installed enough safeguards to ensure this. All it required was that the people of America remain enlightened.

We must ask ourselves this question: are we an enlightened people? Are we protecting ourselves against tyrants who would take away our liberties? Or have we become lazy and ignorant, not educating ourselves as to the Constitution and the decisions being made in our courts today?

Dr. Michael Farris writes, “If we are honest about our situation, we have to conclude that George Nicholas’s optimism has not been fulfilled. The Constitution was intended for our liberty. The Supreme Court was especially intended to protect our liberties. Instead, the Court has twisted the Constitution and made it an instrument of tyranny.”

We the people must once again educate ourselves. We must once again prove ourselves enlightened. By reading Supreme Court cases, studying Constitutional law, making informed voter choices, letting our elected officials hear our voices, and paying attention to the decisions they make, we will be enlightened, we will have freedom and we will not be tyrannized. I believe that if many people studied the recent Supreme Court cases they would be absolutely shocked at how our freedoms are being usurped. The founding fathers would be dismayed and outraged. We, the people of America, have a responsibility to ourselves, to our children, to our forefathers, and to this great land itself.

Let us be enlightened.

 

Why are we ashamed to be Americans?

 

Most of my great-grandparents were immigrants. Some came from Ireland, others from the Azore Islands. I have German, Irish, French, Dutch, and Portuguese blood in me. My grandmother came from Canada. Her parents were German refugees living in Russia and fleeing persecution during World War I. My great-great-great-grandmother on my mother’s side was a Southern belle living in Richmond during the Civil War. She married a Yankee soldier (they lived in peace, apparently, although they argued a lot over whether Lee or Grant was the better general!). My great-great grandfather was an attorney working for President Franklin Roosevelt and battling for Irish rights. On my father’s side, my Portuguese ancestors risked everything and left the St. George and Terceira islands of the Azores to come to California. They worked hard, cowboying and working on dairy ranches to provide for their families. Up until recently, my great-grandfather’s ranch in the Central Valley of California was still in our family. His old white barn and the beautiful ranch house where my grandfather was born still stand today.

 

Every path to America is different. To some, it is a place of refuge. To others, it is a promised land. Some come to America for safety. Others come to find a better life for those they love. Every single story is different. What are the stories in your family?

A study called the Bradley Project recently discovered something very saddening about our nation. Rather than focusing on the good in our nation, many public schools cast a decidedly distasteful light on America. Here’s what the Project had to say:

 “…schools should not slight their civic mission by giving students the impression that America’s failures are more noteworthy than America’s achievements. They should begin with the study of America’s great ideas, heroes, and achievements, so that its struggles can be put in perspective. A broad-minded, balanced approach to the American story best prepares young people for informed democratic participation.”

~The Bradley Project

That’s what inspired me to begin this journal. I have learned about and met many brave, heroic, self-sacrificial Americans who make this nation a beautiful place to live. I feel blessed to live here and to learn from their legacy, and I feel that no life lived generously and well should be forgotten or dismissed. This journal is a study in what makes America beautiful.I don’t believe we need to be ashamed of America. No nation…no nation…is perfect, and so as well the USA is flawed. The pages of American history books are marred by sinners and scandals, just as every history book is because human nature does not change. But America’s pages have also been touched by the hand of a gracious God, as proven by countless men and women in this great land. And each life that helped to make this country a place of freedom and refuge deserves to be remembered.

That is the purpose of this project. I hope you will be inspired to love America a little bit more, even as you learn from its mistakes. After all, America is not great because of its ideals or its principles or its rulings.

America is great because of its people.