Hatred in America is an inch deep and a mile wide. This is evident in that the Confederate Battle Flag on the SC Capital grounds is coming down, to the glee of some and to the ire of others. Division is eroding our country, and one need look no further than the ridiculous ire and glee are based largely on when people came to America, and how they got here. To this day, the world has not eradicated slavery, but in America we have; at least legal slavery. No one today has ever been or owned, or even met a legally held American slave. Still, a segment of our society believes there is profit to be made by stoking anger about a condition that ended 150-years ago.
Oprah Winfrey famously told BBC’s Will Gompertz, “There are still generations of people, older people, who were born and bred and marinated in it – in that prejudice and racism – and they just have to die.” If you were born the day of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, you would be almost 51 today (7-2-1964). Jim Crow segregation became illegal, and was eliminated nation-wide as the 1960’s grew to a close. If you look at the people present at the signing ceremony, there is scarcely a face under 40 in the room. Those 40+ year olds would be 91, and it is highly unlikely that they are vandalizing neighborhoods still. KKK gets painted in graffiti, billboards featuring black people get painted white-faced with graffiti, and opportunities are denied to people, even today, because of skin color. Something is keeping racism against African Americans alive today.
There is an undercurrent in the African American culture that expresses a desire to retaliate against white people, today. The “knockout game”, the Baltimore and Ferguson Riots, and enumerable other events illustrate the pent up hatred. The Hip-Hop music industry makes tremendous money preying on a young people by reinforcing anger that comes from life with insufficient resources. There are entire departments in universities dedicated to indoctrinating young people to scour the human landscape of America looking for a reason to cry “racism”. Indeed, there is an industry that is famous for stoking the fires of division along racial lines, led by Al Sharpton and others. There is an obvious profit motive in inciting rage between races that comes out of the black community.
Despite criticism of the description, America is well described as a melting pot. Like a pot, we have a group of people mixing together, and as we get to America we tend to stay in one place. Much of our nation has grown stagnant with inactivity and content to get by with whatever comes down the path of least resistance. Perhaps our focus on hate and division is intensified because we have lost some of our vision. Biblically, we’re called to work for our sustenance, and love one another. As we depart from a nation on this mission, governed by a common ethical code, we have turned inward and against each other.
America has a history of struggling with being a melting pot. With the exception of the Native Americans, everyone else immigrated somehow, at some time. Certainly no one alive today can claim they got here first. No one race can claim superiority over another, because in 2015’s version of America, people from every race can be found at every socioeconomic level. People of all races are doing all types of work. 51-years after the Civil Rights Act was signed, human resources professionals work diligently to make sure racial and ethnic diversity is represented in the workplace.
For a struggling melting pot, America still leads the world by most metrics. For all of the progress America has made, we’re still America divided. We have a news industry that is split right down the middle of our political landscape. Bill O’Reilly dominates cable news by taking on every opponent that has a political axe to grind against conservative white people. Breitbart, the Daily Caller, the Liberty News and other conservative websites daily lock horns with the Huffington Post, the Daily Beast, and the Daily Kos. Melissa Harris Perry, Don Lemon, Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck have all made tremendous names for themselves “punditizing” the news to divided audiences. We have a profitable media landscape that is set up to cater to the political appetites for each segment of our divided America.
Putting aside our differences as a nation, America is still the greatest team that humanity has ever fielded to establish and carry out the business of being a nation. None even come close. Out of what was raw wilderness, we’ve built the greatest cities, improved the world’s education and blazed most of the trails in science and medicine. Our diversity has given us our first African American president, with another African American, already a world-renown brain surgeon, contending for the job as of this writing. Despite struggling with a divided past, our past represents the best humanity has ever done. Our diversity has everything to do with our success as a nation. The best, brightest and most driven of us have achieved amazing heights. The reason we have such a tremendous immigration problem is precisely because of the greatness of our nation. Our problem is too many people want to come, not too many want to leave. We are blessed as a people, because when adversity has come, our character has been revealed. As a nation of 319-million people on a globe of 6.8 billion people, our blessings are as numerous as the stars, and perhaps we are coming into a phase where our blessings are threatened.
While historians comb through the archives of America looking for sins to convict our nation of, perhaps they could have an altruistic moment and look into the one common theme of our blessings. We are founded on great values. We were founded in adversity. We were founded in the striving for a better life, and a willingness to sacrifice selflessly and greatly. Freedom from religious persecution was the driving force behind the 101 souls that boarded the Mayflower and founded a nation.
In the name of God, Amen. We, whose names are underwritten, the loyal subjects of our dread Sovereign Lord King James, by the Grace of God, of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, King, defender of the Faith, etc. Having undertaken, for the Glory of God, and advancements of the Christian faith and honor of our King and Country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the Northern parts of Virginia, do by these presents, solemnly and mutually, in the presence of God, and one another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil body politic; for our better ordering, and preservation and furtherance of the ends aforesaid; and by virtue hereof to enact, constitute, and frame, such just and equal laws, ordinances, acts, constitutions, and offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general good of the colony; unto which we promise all due submission and obedience. In witness whereof we have hereunto subscribed our names at Cape Cod the 11th of November, in the year of the reign of our Sovereign Lord King James, of England, France, and Ireland, the eighteenth, and of Scotland the fifty-fourth, 1620
Foundationally, we are a nation seeking freedom from tyranny, and seeking freedom for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The 1st Amendment affirms this conclusion The bedrock principals of our nation come straight from the promises of God. Indeed, much of our law, and of law in the free world, has come from Christian principals. God has always had His critics, but He has also been responsible for our nation’s greatness. Each of us is a broken sinner, still he has given our nation greatness like no other; a nation of sinners. I would argue that everyone who ever come to America, who wasn’t an enemy, has come for freedom and opportunity. If you are reading this blog, recall that I have the freedom to write it, and you have the freedom to receive it – freedoms denied others either by law or lack of resources. God has a habit of choosing and calling His people onto the field of their journeys. Consider the call he gave to Abraham:
Genesis 12:1-3 (NLT) 1 The LORD had said to Abram, “Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you. 2 I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others. 3 I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you.”
A regular Bible reader will tell you that they do not expect everyone to be called. Biblically, freedom of and from religion is as fundamental to Christianity as it is to American legal foundations. We shouldn’t be a theocracy, and our nation wasn’t founded on theocratic principles. The bedrock of our nation is a law that allows Christians the right to worship freely and live life according to the Greatest Commandment:
Matthew 22:37-40 (NLT) 37 Jesus replied, “‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”
As a nation, the further away we get from bedrock principals of our faith, the further divided we will get as a nation. Many who come here will not be Christian, but will still share values that harmonize with Christianity. If we are to reduce the hate and grow the great, the thing that unites us will have to have a freedom to live and strive for our blessings. The thing that overcomes our division is love, and love comes from God.