Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Politics, Blah!!!

Legs churning, and wearing nothing but my swim trunks, I still remember the scorching summer day my neighbor’s baying coon dog pursued and took the ten-speed I was riding, right out from underneath me. My body immediately reacted with pain from the friction of impact. It was one of those moments when I wanted to scream but I bottled it.  As I picked myself up from the pavement and observed the cinder and dirt filled strawberries on my hip, knees, and shoulder, I quickly glanced around to see if anyone had seen the humiliating experience.  If you’ve ever cleaned yourself up or gone to a clinic after one of these mishaps, you know the aftermath can be just as hurtful. Have you ever rubbed alcohol into an abrasion, or used a scrub brush and soap to clean out the dirt to prevent infection in scuffed and open skin? That can be just as painful as the incident, but necessary for healing.  

I don’t claim to be a politician or an economist, but I can state with confidence that the federal government in the United States of America is in need of intervention- and I don’t think you can separate pain from it.  I’ve had the privilege of living in many cultures, both within and outside of the United States. My love for the United States is magnified by my seeing the corruption and incompetence in leadership elsewhere. We are an incredibly blessed country. So before going on, I want you to know I love our country and I’m not looking for the government to answer all my questions.

With that said, programs and services within our government need a makeover. Honestly, if steps are taken to actually remedy and fix broken systems, it could be an excruciating experience for many of us- much like cleansing a wound. We have sky-rocketing debt and deficit spending. At present, our nation is a multi-cultured hodge-podge of nationalities, sects, and religions, made up of people who share divergent views and values for society. We have the privilege and challenge of co-existence without being subject to a dictator. Many immigrants work within our culture and benefit from services our taxes provide, but are benefitting illegally.  Healthcare costs present a challenge too many can’t afford. With the development of medical procedures we prolong lives, and our senior community grows at a rapid rate. Many of us wonder if social security will actually be a reality for many of us, let alone our children. Our world is more competitive for the privileges current innovations have produced. We need an educational system that will prepare the next generation for the global competition, challenges, and opportunities. So many issues haven’t been mentioned, like defense spending, national security, welfare reform, creation of jobs that pay for lifestyles we desire, an energy program, etc….

Friedman and Mandelbaum, summed up much of the political struggle we are experiencing with this troubling statement."Unfortunately, the political debate in America has strayed absurdly from the virtues of our public-private formula. Liberals blame all of America's problems on Wall Street and big business while advocating a more equal distribution of an ever shrinking economic pie. Conservatives assert that the key to our economic future is simple: close our eyes, click our heels three times, and say "tax cuts", and the pie will miraculously grow." Thomas L. Friedman and Michael Mandelbaum in the book That Used to Be Us

Political leaders I know of, no matter what party, do their jobs in a manner that will ensure their longevity in office rather than work in a bi-partisan approach toward solutions to preserve our privileges. It’s as if they want to put a salve on our wounds and  throw on a band-aide, without removing the contamination.

 As the November elections loom, here are a few convictions that will dictate the choices I make at the voting booth. I’m so glad that “In God We Trust” is a motto on our currency. Ultimately, there will be NO system of government or any program that will perfectly meet every need. Not one. But, I’m thankful that God is in control and He can be curative through people who are responsive to Him, and He has even proven to use leaders who are not responsive to Him to accomplish His purposes.

·         I pray for leaders who actually demonstrate their trust in an Almighty, through the policies they make.

·         I’m looking for leaders who propose solutions, and have a record of achieving them. We need politicians who will help us face up to the scrubbing we need and who have a rallying conviction about why the federal government exists.

·         I want to see someone propose bold change, knows reasons why he thinks the changes are necessary, and has a written plan.

·         We need leaders who can see the central issues in the problems we face.  Many disagreements among people with differing political opinions revolve around comprehending what is truly at stake. Though the challenges are complex, we need a simple structure for the solutions proposed as a starting point.

·         I will be happy with a candidate who challenges the “establishment”, Democrat or Republican.

·         I think insisting on a balanced budget, paying off debt, and a halting deficit spending are crucial. Once that is in order, we’ll be poised for bold investment again.

·         I will vote for leaders who desire to help those who truly need government assistance and build incentives into programs they propose get my vote. We don’t want to be handing out money to people who have inward ability to better themselves and become productive citizens.

·         I don’t think our representatives need benefits that are different than the people they represent. And… their tenure of service needs to be limited to keep fresh ideas and positive change happening on the federal and state levels. Long live governors who give themselves limits!

·          I prefer politicians who guard and defend The Constitution of the United States of America as well.

Is it possible for the people of the United States to vote leaders into office, who say to with their policies, “this is gonna hurt, but it will clean the wound, and you should feel better soon…”? I pray we will!..

Friday, February 3, 2012

Rose Colored Glasses

Gwyneth, my second-born, is my two-year-old daughter. At times it is difficult to see the beauty in her active lifestyle without knowing her motivation. She really likes to serve and help, and she’ll go for it without asking. Today, she found all the dirty, separated laundry in the hallway and decided to distribute it back into the laundry baskets. The dirty whites went back in her top drawer.  She’ll bring me the wrong pair of shoes, takeoff her clothes when we mention a bath, even though we intend to bathe her two hours later.  She’ll bring her brother’s shoes for him to get dressed, even if they are ones he or I never intended for him to wear.  When I have a pressing and important email, she’ll initiate her baby love for my attention. Her gestures are beautiful because we know she serves from love in her heart. As a dad, I view her differently from someone who is not my flesh and blood. But, sometimes her desire to help and her initiative, at best, can be frustrating and bothersome.

We deal gracefully with her routine interruptions because we know her motivation and her pure intent.

A prayer stirs in my own heart: that God would view me with rose-colored glasses when my performance is less than desirable, but my heart is true. A verse from Scripture comes to mind:

“… He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God.” 1 Corinthians 4: 5b NIV

Earlier in history, when God sent His prophet Samuel to choose a king (known as the greatest in Israel’s history), He gave him some instructions. God told him not to be influenced by the outward appearance of David since God looks at the heart. He knows the motives and intentions of every action.

When Gwyneth is eighteen, my questioning her motives or actions that frustrate me may be in order. For now,  I choose to rejoice in her pure heart. Cause like I said, “As a daughter, I see her differently.” I think God does the same with me when He sees my heart. That shouldn’t be a license for irresponsible living though. Eventually, my actions need to fall in line, because my motivations and intentions tend  to follow the heart’s path.

When I was in college, and that was quite a while ago, there was a song that was popular in the Christian contemporary world. Wayne Watson wrote a song called, “Rose Colored Glasses” and these are the words to the chorus:

                             “His gaze always passes thru rose colored glasses,

                                       Every time He looks on my heart,

                                       And thru love's forgiveness,

                                       Thru purity's fire,

                                      I am my God's desire.”

Thankful for a Father like that…