Saturday, July 04, 2009

July The Fourth

America is far from being perfect. We have our problems, no matter what political lens you chose to view the action from.

On the Republican side, we have the Governor of South Carolina, who seems to have borrowed his present political strategy from Forest Gump: stupid is as stupid does. The Democrats, of course, have their share of gubernatorial goofballs too, starting with Rod Blagojevich.

Now some among us have drawn some rather astonishing conclusions from these wayward politicians. The non–logic goes something like this:

Sanford had an extramarital affair and ran off to Argentina to hook up with a woman he claimed to be his ‘soul mate.” Sanford is a republican. Therefore all republicans, who claim to adhere to “family values” are really adulterers who secretly lust after Antonio Banderas and Charo. And this is why Hugo Chavez is so angry.

On the Dem side:

Blagojevich tried to sell Obama’s senate seat to the highest bidder. Blago is a democrat. Therefore, all democrats, who claim to be champions of the poor, are in reality greedy elitists who want the rest of us to be driving around on riding lawnmowers while they’re busy joyriding in a 747 doing photo ops over New York city, on their way home from a weekend at Martha’s Vineyard.

Of course, this is all nonsense.

We all know that Hugo Chavez is angry because his haircut makes him look like Herman Munster, bless his heart. Perhaps John Edwards can recommend a good barber.

So, yes, America has issues, just like the rest of the world.

But the longer I’m in Africa, the more I appreciate just how good we have it in the good ole’ US of A. Here is short list of some of my biggest ‘gratefulnesses”.

  • In America, I’m grateful for mostly honest policemen who aren’t constantly trying to con me, as one did this week in Lusaka when I was given a speeding ticket for going 4 miles per hour over the speed limit. The officer tried to claimed the fine was three times what the law says it is.
  • In America, I’m grateful that my tax money generally goes to important things, like roads or schools. In Africa, tax money can just as easily go towards a new fleet of Mercedes for government Ministers, presumably because the poor roads destroyed their previous ones.
  • In America, I’m grateful that a person can say whatever they want about the President, and not fear being tortured or killed. In many places in Africa, a person can say whatever they want about a president, as long as it is flattering.
  • In America, I’m grateful that loud explosions in the middle of the night usually don’t mean that we’re at war. Instead, it just means that Americans are celebrating their freedom, in the usual fashion, by blowing stuff up.
  • In America, I’m grateful that people like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Al Franken can run for office, and win. If they can’t get laws passed, then they should at least be good for a laugh or two.
  • In America, I’m grateful that there is a Fox News, and a CNN, and that neither of them are as “ fair” or “balanced” as they claim. It makes us all think for ourselves a little more than we otherwise might.

I was sort of hesitant about posting this, because the last impression I wanted to give is that I think that everything about America is good, or that I think that everything about Africa is bad. Both places have their share of both.

But in America I sometimes wonder if we are losing a sense of our most valuable national treasure, and by that I mean our ability to celebrate both our unity and our diversity. It seems that more and more our differences erupt into bitter personal attacks and slanderous accusations. Little by little, we are losing the ability to respectfully disagree.

And if the Church, as possessors of the Spirit of unity (Rom. 15:5), cannot take the lead in changing this, how can we expect anyone else to?

Because, as we have seen in Iran recently, we are never really independent until we can celebrate the freedom of dissent.


Emily Johns said...

Loved this blog.....really made you think! Thanks for taking the time to share. Love you guys!
Emily Johns

Jerry and Paula Ireland said...

Thanks for the encouraging note Emily! Love you guys too!

Anonymous said...

praying for you guys today! love and miss you! Audrey Johns

Jerry and Paula Ireland said...

thanks Audrey. Miss you too!

Nate said...

Got a good chuckle with the haircut remark followed with "bless his heart"