RED ALERT!

IMG_20150103_172451138No, that was not a reference to any political affiliation, but any true Trekkie would recognize that phrase as the warning signal on the Starship Enterprise, which might be followed by such notable quotes as “shields at full” or “fire proton torpedoes”. 

However, the term is a good illustration of a deep-seated anxiety plaguing our American society right now, one of many in fact.  The election of 2016 is being touted as one-of-a-kind, and to some degree rightly so.  On the other hand, the angst and rancor are nothing new, but a fine old American tradition dating back at least to Rutherford vs. Tilden of 1876.*

Of course, the political climate is only one example of the generalized apprehension that is so much a part of our culture.  It’s unfortunate that, as a Christian, a purported follower of the Creator of the Universe, I have a tendency to acquiesce to some of the same anxieties.  I say unfortunate because a) I should know better, b) I know WHY I should know better, and c) I have been given sufficient Power to act on that knowledge.

In reality, these fearsome “what ifs” are the 64-color crayon box version of worries, complete with the sharpener on the back, just in case the particular color of the day becomes a bit dull in our Enemy’s hand as he tries to scribble on my world.  And my Enemy is not the government, the boss, or even the neighbor next door. 

There’s the rub, the real point.  The apostle Paul wrote that we “war not against flesh and blood, but against the unseen powers of darkness”, and when it came to supernatural antagonists, if anyone knew what he was talking about, it was Paul.  I have an Enemy far more seditiously subtle than anything I may read or hear on the news.  And if I get wise to one of his colors, he’s got plenty of others to choose from, unless…

As I write this, I am at a nursing conference.  Here is a piece of scientific wisdom from Dr. David Schramm’s session:

reality2

Hmmm…sounds familiar:

“And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”

That doesn’t mean I ignore all the bad news in favor of the good.  But it does matter what I choose to focus and reflect on, since it helps determine what my responses will be to all things, both good and bad…

…no matter what color the next “alert” is.  (And there WILL be more.)

Philippians 4:8 Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

* http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2016/11/28/im-democrat-heres-how-hillary-and-recount-campaign-leaves-me-feeling.html)

Who, me??

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And I quote…

“But please listen to me when I say this: America is worth it.”

“It’s up to each and every one of us to keep working to make America better and stronger and fairer.”

“…stay engaged on every level.”

“We need you.  America needs your energy.”

                  –Hillary Clinton*

That pretty well sums it up, no matter who we did or did not vote for.  So yeah, the truth is that, regardless of the 40+ hour work week or lack thereof, the car in the shop and the dishes in the sink, the kids’ activities, the bills, the aging parents and/or concern about the how to deal with the in-laws…somewhere in there, our country needs our involvement, our voice, our help. 

I love the story of Moses when God first called to him from the burning bush.  The short version goes something like this:

“Who, me!?!”

“Yes, you!!”

About five times, in fact, and answered by some practical strategies that necessitated Moses’ (as Mrs. Clinton puts it) “energy and engagement”.  In other words, it cost him something.

Obviously, there is no disagreement about the American right to disagree, and in that view, the most current presidential election was not unique.  (The Brits have their own version…)

Pugnacious verbal blood-letting is a time honored tradition in all the colors (not merely red and blue) of the political spectrum.   Unfortunately, school children are not the only ones adept at playground bullying; they learn it well from us adults.  What seems to be passion for “our” cause can easily go beyond true activism into irreparable damage.  Advocacy becomes practical, however, when I choose to step in and confront the day-to-day “adult-bullying” which takes many creative forms, some of which can be couched in seeming sophistication, much of it in my own backyard.

There are also other ways to stay engaged, regardless of whether or not your candidate of choice won the election.  Here are a few practical suggestions, and I hope you may add more in the comment section:

  • Maybe your thing is political advocacy. Here’s good comment from the interaction with my oldest daughter:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             “A way to be involved is to not only confront any hateful actions or remarks you personally come across, but also to hold your representatives accountable. Be in contact with your state and federal lawmakers. When I was a lobbyist (for lack of a better term), constituent concerns were the most important thing, hands down. As few as 20 phones calls from constituents could sometimes sway a lawmaker’s vote. If you disagree with them, tell them.”

Here’s the place to start:

http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/

  • To find a good match for your skills and time availability, take a look at these sites for help.

http://www.volunteermatch.org/

http://www.createthegood.org/

  • For someone who’s passion is housing, try Habitat for Humanity. It’s kind of hard to stay mad at someone when you’re focusing on hanging sheetrock for a good cause…together.

http://www.habitat.org/

  • Now for a challenging word for us bloggers, tweeters, instagrammers, snapchatters, and otherwise connoisseurs of fine social media. Try reading some writings by those from the opposing side of the argument. True debaters are taught to contend on each side; it causes them to learn the age-old skill of walking a mile in the other guy’s shoes. Another wise quote from my progeny:

“If you want to see a perspective firmly lodged in the liberal camp, look at Shaun King’s Facebook page. I’m not saying I agree with him, but it might be a place to see another side of things, or at least to see why people are worried. My newsfeed has a decidedly liberal slant, so I intentionally continue to follow more conservative folks so I’m not unaware.”

I love her word “intentional”.   I’ve followed Pied Type since I started this blogging thing.  We are obviously divergent in our worldviews, which is good for me.  It’s a beautiful site, so check it out!

And while we’re at it, how many of us are guilty of initiating and/or forwarding unseemly and unsubstantiated emails or posts about “the other side”, hmmmm???

Moses became instrumental in delivering God’s people from tyrannical rule.  Now, you can apply that allegorically however you wish, but the point remains—you are needed, not merely to advance the policies dear to your heart, but also and at the same time (please hear this), to help maintain the “indivisible” part of the pledge most of us grew up with. It is, in fact, the American way.

Here are a few other quotes from another famous American who had his share of personal and political vilification, and eventual made the ultimate sacrifice.

While we must, by all available means, prevent the overthrow of the government, we should avoid planting and cultivating too many thorns in the bosom of society.
–March 18, 1864 Letter to Edwin M. Stanton

I have desired as sincerely as any man — I sometimes think more than any other man — that our present difficulties might be settled without the shedding of blood.
–April 26, 1861 Address to the Frontier Guard

I appeal to you again to constantly bear in mind that with you, and not with politicians, not with Presidents, not with office-seekers, but with you, is the question, “Shall the Union and shall the liberties of this country be preserved to the latest generation?” 
–February 11, 1861 Speech to Gov. Morton in Indianapolis

With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds…”
–March 4, 1865 Inaugural Address

Thank you, Mr. Lincoln.

http://www.abrahamlincolnonline.org/lincoln/speeches/quotes.htm

*Quoted from FoxNews online