And, Tomorrow…

Tuesday, November 8, 2016.  Election Day.  Tens of millions of votes will be cast by days end – most, by living, breathing American citizens – and those votes, along with a myriad vote-2016of votes already cast, will ultimately reveal the president-elect who will succeed Barack Obama and be sworn in as 45th President of the United States this January.  It is indeed a big day – election day – and, though it may seem every general election is deemed the most significant in our nation’s history, the choices we make in electing our duly sworn representatives are not to be taken lightly.

Regardless of whether or not we believe this election bears any more significance than the last, we vote.  We vote because we are able.  We vote because we feel it is our duty. We vote to exercise our right, to stand and be counted.  Knowing we have a stake in the future of this nation, we vote.  We vote for any number of reasons.  Today… we vote. Then we wait.

We wait with bated breath, perhaps wringing our hands, in great anticipation of the results.  Tantalized throughout the day by exit polling data, the analysis of experts, we wait.  For some, perhaps many, varying degrees of anxiety may set in.  This anxiety is a symptom of one’s perception or true understanding of that which is “at stake” in a given election.  Our very way of life may indeed hang in the balance.

For others, there is no anxiety.  In fact, they may believe the results of the election are of little consequence.  Some would argue it makes little to no difference who is president, nor which senator or state representative is elected.  They are all corrupt.  They all seek power and would sell their respective souls to retain it.

So, what about you?  Do you believe this is a particularly critical election?  Do you feel there is much at stake?  Do you feel you have voted for the man or woman who would lead this nation in the direction of your liking?  You know what I think?  I would submit to you this is the single most consequential election since that of 1860.  Now, you may be nodding in agreement or shrugging in amusement, but before you presume we are kindred spirits or nothing of the like, let me explain how I arrived at such a bold conclusion.

Though the final results of this election are not yet known, one thing is certain:  This has been an extraordinary election cycle, the likes of which I have never experienced.  Think about it.  While every election comes with its share of allegations, mudslinging, punditry, etc., all “accepted” by many as “just politics,” have we ever seen anything like this?  Ever? I honestly cannot think of a conversation I have had with anyone regarding this election cycle that didn’t leave us both shaking our heads, bewildered.  I, for one, am exhausted, embarrassed – heck – horrified by what I have seen an heard.

If we’re being honest, and in spite of what President Obama claims, we were a deeply divided people entering this election cycle.  Ask yourself.  Have things gotten better, or worse, since we started this process?  In my opinion, the wedge was driven deeper during the primaries, and it’s only gotten worse.  This has brought out the very worst in us.  I have had to bite my tongue time and time again.  It hasn’t been easy.  I don’t like having to apologize for my behavior, but I have had my weak moments, indeed.  My weakness stems from my inclination to be prideful, and when I have been attacked – even by people with whom I would otherwise agree on most issues – I have wanted to counter. Now, I have gotten much better – I pray daily for humility – but, admittedly, I’ve wanted to ring some people’s necks, figuratively speaking, of course.

Friends… This isn’t us.  This isn’t who we are.  This isn’t America.  If it is, why in the world would anyone want to live here?  We are not a nation of vile, foul-mouthed, bully-ish heathens, are we?  If we are, is that truly who we want to be?  Christians attacking Christians?  Conservatives attacking conservatives.  Democrats hating their Republican neighbor, and vice versa?  Are we to be a nation with no moral compass?  Are we to fear our fellow citizen?  Trust no one?  Are we now a nation of selfish, prideful, contemptible fools, hellbent on looking only after ourselves, forsaking all others?  And, I might ask, where do we get off asking God to bless America, when we thank Him for nothing, demand He answer our prayers as we see fit, and refuse to do His bidding?  (Food for thought.)

Okay, so we voted.  We voted, and we await the results.  But… What about tomorrow?  If your candidate loses, what then?  Will you be filled with rage, ready to march on D.C. or your state capital with torches and pitchforks?  Say your candidate wins.  Will you gloat and mock your “enemy” (aka your neighbor, relative, spouse?)  Will you shamelessly patronize the losers and “encourage” them to find common ground – that ground, higher ground, on which you stand?

Have we burned too many bridges, this time?  I fear we have.  I fear there may be no coming back from this.  And, if so, that is truly a shame.  Then again, we were perhaps never more divided than we were during the Civil War.  We came back from that.  America, the thought of America, the idea of America, the American Dream… all these are contingent on We, The People.  If America indeed falls, it is because we are a fallen people.

My friends, please join me in taking a long hard look in the mirror, doing some legitimate soul-searching, because no matter what happens today – tomorrow is coming.

The Epiphany

Okay, so here it is (O-dark-thirty) – 0226, or 2:26 AM to be exact, and here I am typing, as opposed to sleeping, on a project that was never intended – well, at least I didn’t intend on it.  God?  Now, that is a distinct possibility.  In fact, I so believe it is God inspiring me to be up at this hour, typing this message, that I am actually doing it.  Trust me, the selfish side is yearning for sleep, but I shall not cave.  What’s it called?  Obedience?  Yes, indeed.  So, I know you must be asking, “What is it that is so important it can’t wait until tomorrow?”  Well, my friends, I had an epiphany.  Epiph-a-what!?!  Epiphany!  Yes, of course, I fully intend to explain.  Why else would I be up at this Godly hour?  God said jump.  I didn’t ask “How high?”  I just started jumping.

This all started sometime last evening – yeah, let’s see, that would be Friday night, ’cause this is now Saturday.  So, I was on Twitter – I don’t remember what time it was – but I ran across this ‘retweet’ [aka re-shared, or forwarded message – for those of you who aren’t Twitter(ers)].  The original tweet was from controversial author and political commentator Ann Coulter.  I know; I know.  Haven’t we been down this road before, Kevin?  Put down the politics and back away.  Yeah, well, another epic fail was imminent.  I won’t go into the petty details.  Let’s just say, I took the bait in addressing her provocative rhetoric.  Why do I let these people get under my skin?  Why!?!

Now, again, I did not use profanity, cuss her, etc.  I didn’t attack her, per se.  HowEver… I might have suggested she was behaving in a “despicable” manner.  In fact, I can’t say for sure – it’s kind of fuzzy and all – but I might have actually called her despicable.  Yes… I… did.  But, listen, you should have read what she… no, never mind.  It doesn’t matter.  Did she write about and perpetuate a provocative and utterly ridiculous narrative?  Yes she did.  That said, she wasn’t talking to me.  She doesn’t even know me.  She was simply doing – right or wrong – what political commentators do.  She’s not responsible for how I react, or don’t.  I am responsible for my own actions.  I cannot, and will not, blame her.  Besides, at the time I tweeted my response, I was feeling rather justified.  That bully, Coulter, wasn’t going to bully people around – not if I can stop her.  Someone had to put her in her place!

Alllllll-righty-then…

So, having successfully given her – Coulter – the “What for…” I wound myself back down, went to bed, and drifted off to sleep.

Bleep, bleep… buzzerrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr… Yeah, that would be the annoying message-received notification on my cell phone… the one I forgot to silence when I went to bed.  Oh, goody, I got a reply from Jeannie Ortega (at 12:24 AM, no less).  “Jeannie Ortega?” you ask.  Yeah, I don’t know much about her, but I know she just debuted a new song I listened to last night.  I know that I really liked it.  And, I know that I tweeter her – earlier in the evening, when people were still awake in certain parts of the world – to tell her I thought her voice, the song, and the song’s message were beautiful.  How nice of her to thank me – at 12:24 AM.  Do I sound bitter?  You know, I actually was not – am not – at all bitter.  In fact, this is where the story gets good, interesting, whatever.

Miss Ortega’s song, Never Been Hurt, really – as I shared with her – struck a chord with me.  The message is clear.  She wants to “love” like Jesus.  Despite being hurt and scarred, she wants to move beyond the pain, and love, unconditionally, like Jesus did.  She wants to know and share the same love Jesus had for us when He asked The Almighty Father to “forgive” us, as He hung there on The Cross, in our place.  It is a powerful, powerful message, indeed.  So, lying there at 12-something, my mind began to race, drifting back to that ill-advised tweet.  Why could I not just let that go?  Why could I not have met her hate with love?  What is wrong with me?  Nothing like having a pity party at O-dark-thirty!  But, seriously, it was bothering me.

I laid there, relaxed, and began to collect my thoughts.  This is important.  It’s important I resolve this, once and for all.  Why am I so tempted, feel so compelled to intervene?  Why do I have this propensity for engagement, particularly on behalf of others when I see them as being or having been wronged?  This, I must answer.  Then, out of nowhere, it hit me.  I am hurting!  This is about me!  No, no, no…  That cannot be.  After all, I am the tough, broad-shouldered, thick-skinned guy, the one who charges in to defend the innocent, the weak, the oppressed.  I’m not the one who’s hurting.  I don’t have open wounds.  What scars!?!

Wow… All these years fighting other people’s battles, and I’m the one who needs saving.  I was the one who needed to be defended.

(More on this to come – I assure you – in my Your Life Matters series.)

You know, I’ve had epiphanies before, but this light bulb was brighter than any I had ever seen.  It shone all around.  It illuminated and made clear that which had been buried in the farthest, darkest reaches of my mind.  It was troubling, but it was also liberating.  To think that while I was, my entire life, defending others, I was at the same time, exacting revenge and justice, vicariously.  To realize I had been harboring such resentment all these years.  Now, I could exhale.

Still, there is much work to be done.  While, as one of my new friends so articulately wrote, I have “named” that which ails me – now, the real trials begin.  I must now survey each of my wounds, each scar, and assess them.  I must confront my affliction.  I must ensure I have forgiven those who have injured me.  I must ensure I have forgiven myself.  If I truly want to “love” like Jesus, like I have, as Miss Ortega sings, “Never Been Hurt,” I must take up this yoke.

Friends, I apologize for this diversion from the path I asked you to accompany on.  I must admit, though I told you it was a journey and I, for one, was prepared to go wherever it might take us, I was surprised by this.  It truly was unexpected.

[Incidentally, I do recommend Miss Ortega’s song.  You can find it on YouTube.  I will attach a link later – but… I am tired.  Blessings, my friends.]

 

 

Sir John Dalberg-Acton, aka Lord Acton, famously posited, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”  Moreover, he added, “Great men are almost always bad men.”  To be sure, Lord Acton’s claim is bearish, even to the pessimist.  In these remarks, the baron affords us very little hope – might we call it an “eye of the needle(s)” chance – of rising to power without forsaking our virtue.  Well, if he is right, the obvious question is:  Why?  Why is it so difficult for one to attain power without succumbing to – its power?

It’s a common theme, is it not?  We rise, and we fall.  Countless authors, artists, composers, filmmakers, etc., have captured the torment, isolation, and exile that hounds the mighty, the powerful, amidst their nosedive into the abyss.  Given the fact – can we call it that? – this is so common, why have we permitted history to repeat itself?  Why do we acquiesce?  Is power simply too powerful for man to bridle?  Is it the ‘bronc that won’t be broke’?  Or, is it, perhaps, that we haven’t taken the right approach?  What do we need to control, or check power?  I submit, wisdom.  But not just any wisdom.  Source matters.

I found an answer, where I often do:  my Bible.

Who is wise and understanding among you?  Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in humility that comes from wisdom.  But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth.  Such ‘wisdom’ does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil.  For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.  Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.  [James 3:13-18]