As I try to collect my usual optimistic thoughts for this particular column I have written for over 20 years, I am having difficulty. I am still extremely thankful to God for His infinite blessings and I could provide more specifics than any of us would want to read. My heart aches however for our nation.
Now, perhaps more than ever in my short 68 years, Jesus’ description of us–humanity in general–of being sheep without a shepherd seems painfully accurate. A cliché like the perfect storm could describe this year. Many would blame our deep malaise upon the very existence of President Trump. But will those most rabid in their hatred for him or even their support of him continue to be consumed by anger, discontent, and profound unhappiness?
From even before 1776, American politics has been messy, often uncontrolled in its nastiness and maliciousness. Steve Scalise, Republican US Representative of Louisiana, has fortunately recovered by his attempted murder by a quite unhappy Bernie Sanders supporter in June, 2017. From here in Kansas City in October, 2018, an editor of Raw Story called Scalise an accomplice in his own shooting since he supports the Second Amendment.
In our lives, we have not witnessed Congressional physical violence though. In May, 1856, Democratic US Representative Preston Brooks of South Carolina came into the Senate Chamber after adjournment and beat unarmed US Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts into unconsciousness with his cane. Sumner had two days earlier given his speech, The Crime Against Kansas, severely criticizing Senators defending slavery.
There were scores of physical fights between Congressmen prior to the Civil War in the Capitol chambers. In a Maryland honor duel in February, 1838, a Kentucky Representative killed a Maine Representative on his third rifle shot. Each had missed the other the first two times!
Perhaps knowing this history should make me feel better about current incivility. As a Christian, I care for the welfare of all. I believe I also respect the rights of those who disbelieve in God. Expressing my own faith is not an act of hatred. But before this present time, I have never read so many social media posts suggesting our national and personal ills are due to the very existence of Christians and their faith. To me, this is a frightening trend in public discourse.
Politics has not and will not save us. The disgraced attorney, Charles Colson, expressed this view long after his conversion and years of service to the incarcerated: I meet millions who tell me that they feel demoralized by the decay around us. Where is the hope? The hope that each of us have is not in who governs us, or what laws are passed, or what great things that we do as a nation. Our hope in the in the power of God working through the hearts of people, and that’s where our hope is in this country; that’s where our hope is in life.
My family hymn is Great Is Thy Faithfulness. You can find the scriptural reference for it in Jeremiah’s words in Lamentations Chapter 3. What I know and believe by faith is that no matter how rotten I of our society may be and become, God will be the same. He will love and show faithful mercy to each who renounces his or her personal selfishness and embraces His infinite grace. For this I will be eternally grateful.