As our 4th of July celebrations come to a close and we begin our new work week, there is something that has been on my mind and on my heart. To be honest, I thought about it the entire weekend.
On Friday I read an article by Matt Walsh entitled, “No, America is Not a Great Nation.” I don’t normally read many of his writings and only clicked through because a trusted friend had linked up the story. His style of writing is not one that I typically read as I am tenderhearted and tend to stay away from controversial matters, especially ones that get heated fast. However, when I do read his writings, I often find myself agreeing with some of his points. This article was no different. I found myself thinking about all the ways our nation has failed and how we are not the “great” nation we used to be.
Mr. Walsh pointed out that we’ve become a nation of people who kill babies, burn down our cities, push birth control on our children, glorify pornography, are unable to have differing opinions without being called racist, homophobic, or intolerant, and who ignore the Constitution when it fits our needs. And he’s right. Our nation has become all those things. Our Founding Fathers are probably hanging their heads in shame for us. The nation we fought so hard to become is not a nation of peace, freedom, and hope anymore.
Or is it?
As I sat reading the article on Friday, something just didn’t sit right with me. While these accusations are true, I think Mr. Walsh misses a very important point. His reader asked for hope and to show how our nation is still great. After pointing out all our failings, Mr. Walsh asks his readers, “If so, what’s so great about being great? Where is the optimism in that miserable greatness? Where is the hope for the future if moral bankruptcy, selfishness, confusion, stupidity, deviancy and failure are “great”?
As the weekend passed and I celebrated our nation’s birth with our family and friends, I couldn’t help but think of this article over and over again. The point I think that Mr. Walsh misses is that while all these terrible things are true about our nation, the hope and the fire for freedom and equality are still alive in the nation’s people! I know because I see it on a daily basis.
Our nation has slaughtered almost 56 million innocent lives since the passing of Roe v. Wade. The numbers are staggering and grip at the heart and soul. But even while many have become apathetic to this plight, there are others who stand up and fight for life! There are people who pray outside of abortion clinics, those who run pregnancy resource centers, there are Stand for Life rallies, and 40 Days for Life events. There are people meeting behind the scenes trying to figure out ways to end this scourge. Yes, abortion is rampant in our society but there is still hope. Those who fight for life will tell you that even in the face of incredible odds the fight is worthwhile and good. There is hope.
I think about our cities burning and lawlessness being encouraged and celebrated. There has been a steady rise in crime and unlawful acts and it seems as if people not only don’t respect the law, but other humans as well. As the wife of a police officer, I can’t tell you how many times I have feared for my husband’s life and for those whom we call family- brothers and sisters of the badge. My heart cries when I watch the news and see all the violence and crime and worry about what will face our children in the future. But there is still hope. There are good men and women willing to fight evil on the front lines, sacrificing everything if called to do so, to protect us from those who would bring us harm. They still respect our nation’s laws and swear to uphold them to the best of their ability. They may not always do it perfectly, but they are still trying, sacrificing for the betterment of our society. There are so many honorable men and women in this nation. There is hope.
When I think about our citizens I do wonder what has gotten into the minds and hearts of some. Why would they care so little about one another? How can they disregard life the way they do? How can they destroy their neighborhoods or what others have built up through hard work? It’s not only violence that I’m thinking about when I contemplate this. I wonder how people can ignore the needs of others so that they can find financial gain or status. Why do they consider others unimportant and disposable?
While it is true that there are many who are willing to destroy the lives and the well-being of others either through violence or self-gain, there are many others who are working hard to rebuild neighborhoods and lives through the gift of volunteerism and charity. I don’t have to go far to witness this in my own life. We just returned from a mission trip to help minister to the homeless and needy. While our trip was a short one, there are many who work on a daily basis to help improve the lives of others. Those who work in soup kitchens, shelters, pregnancy resource centers, food pantries, churches, hospitals, organizations that work to improve neighborhoods like People Working Cooperatively, Habitat for Humanity, organizations that help individuals obtain their high school diplomas or to find work, and those who respond to crisis situations or natural disasters. There are millions of people who donate their time, money, and talent every single day to lift up others and to make our world a better place. There is hope.
We may look at the world around us and feel overwhelmed and worried. It seems as if at every turn our religious rights are being stripped away from us. If they aren’t being stripped away they are being corrupted and dismantled. Sometimes it feels like we are the lone follower standing up for what we believe. But this is not so. We have people who dedicate their time and talent to teaching our children the faith- religious education instructors, youth leaders, vacation bible school teachers, and religious brothers, sisters, and priests. They encourage us, as our children’s primary faith educators, to stay the course and to be faithful. The world is so loud all around us, shouting for us to turn our back on what we believe, but there are many who are willing to stand up devoutly to teach and proclaim the truth. There is hope.
We went to our local fireworks show on the Fourth. The forecast was calling for storms, but when we arrived we had hope that the rain might hold off. We sat with friends on the hill watching the orchestra warm up. Our children blew bubbles and rolled down the hill without a care in the world. When the orchestra began playing “The Star Spangled Banner”, every single person rose from their seats. With hands over our hearts, some sang and some simply took in the beauty of seeing so many honoring our nation. I felt hope.
Soon though, the rain moved in and many would leave before the fireworks would begin. We sat in our car and waited. Despite the rain, the event organizers decided to go ahead with the fireworks. When they started we jumped from our car and headed out to watch. As my family stood in the rain on Saturday night watching the fireworks that celebrated our nation’s birth and greatness, I could help but feel proud and encouraged. Despite the downpour there were hundreds of others willing to weather the storm to give honor and thanks for the sacrifices that so many have endured over the years to help our country flourish and grow. I looked around me and saw hope.
It’s easy to look at our problems and think that all is lost. But God is still very much alive in our nation. We only have to look at those who are working to make our nation better- those who sacrifice their time, their talents, and their energy to help those in need; those who are protecting our nation both abroad and on the home front; those who are imparting our faith to our children and helping to nourish our souls; those who fight for the life of all of God’s children. Yes, there is much wrong in our nation, but we are still a nation filled with many good and honorable people. If, like Mr. Walsh says, we are not able to separate the people from the nation, I believe that this means we still live in a great nation- one that is overflowing with hope.
It only took one man dying on the cross to bring hope to the world. That hope is eternal and regardless of what our worries are or where we think our nation is headed, there is always hope.