My son is five. He has an excellent memory. Both short term. And long. I know this because of one of his most favorite things to say: remember when. It is equal parts hilarious and a lesson in how very much we are all centered on our own worlds.
“Mommy, remember when I was four?” (His birthday was less than a month ago.) He remembers that time he saw that elephant up close but was too scared to pet it. He remembers that I forgot my keys yesterday. He remembers where my Bluetooth is today.
“Remember when we got ice cream yesterday and it dripped on my face? That was so funny!” “Remember when I snuck up on you?” Yes. Because it was five minutes ago.
He doesn’t have a concept of life before he was born. Evidence: When my sister became pregnant with her third child with her husband my son asked when he got to go to the wedding because: “before you have a baby you get married.”
Me: They were married before you were born.
Wilder: I wasn’t invited!?
America. Remember when. This morning I have read and seen and heard enough quotes and claims of how our country has NEVER BEEN MORE DIVIDED. In the history of ever whoa is our nation never has it been so divided. Never has race been so tender and heated a topic. Never have so many groups at one time claimed they didn’t have a voice (while all screaming in all caps all the times on social media and talking in the stores and worshipping at whatever establishment they see fit).
America, remember that time we had an actual war. The one where blood was shed. Where weapons were more than an unfriend button. Where people died. Not relationships. Not civility. Actual human beings died. Lots of them.
America, remember that time vast people in our country thought other people should own people. Remember that time people spit in the faces of students trying to go to school. Remember that time people thought women shouldn’t vote. Remember that time people thought it was totally acceptable to say “fag.” Remember that time our country was waiting not hours for the results of a president election, but for a ruling from a court. Remember that time things were settled with duels.
The world is watching, America. And your age is showing. Your self-centered nature is showing.
By many standards we are not nearly the old, old country we like to think we are. And perhaps, we are having a quarter life crisis. Or maybe a mid-life crisis. We can’t know yet because we don’t yet know how long this experiment in democracy will last. Are we nearing the end? Or is this just the beginning?
See, America 2016 there was a country before you existed. Things happened before you were born that shaped what we see as our present reality. Our history is complicated. It is messy. It is real. And it is truly no less complicated and messy than our present.
I’ve heard again and again that there have never been more narcissistic people in our nation than we have today.
I believe it. Our votes are too often a reflection of what is in the best interest of us personally rather than collectively. Our lives are too often a reflection of what is in our personal best interest rather than the kingdom. Personal comfort above all else. Personal gain at all cost.
To summarize the words of one of my favorite pastors (Francis Chan) — we each have entire pages dedicated to our daily lives filled with photos and whatever happenings we see fit.
Our worlds have become very small. It’s an irony what with the massive loads of information we consume. But, social media has created a false sense of reality.
We feel utterly securely connected to the whole big huge giant world. And, yet, we are the dictators of our own feeds. We friend our friends and like-minded people.
On my iPad it keeps asking me to choose a customized feed of news. Customized feed of news. What brand of truth do you want today, Madam Elliott? Because truth is entirely negotiable.
People think nothing of saying things like “Oh, I don’t like to read about that because it makes me feel (insert not positive feeling here) so I will just unfriend, unfollow.”
Long before social media we collectively began turning our eyes from the “boring” details of politics and civic happenings. And then one day while watching the Real Housewives of Jonesboro or another Kardashian apply lipgloss and roll their eyes we tuned back in. And it was too late.
Our news became entertainment because we demanded it be so with our attention, our ratings, our dollars. We were far too bored with straight black and white facts. We wanted some panache. We didn’t want facts that required our thoughtful analysis based on our knowledge of history and context. We wanted people to do all the work. Like baby birds we sat back and allowed people we trusted to analyze and regurgitate the facts. And we wonder why watching two “news” channels nationally gives us two different Americas.
Facebook itself from my limited understanding uses how and what we search, how and what we comment on to organize what we actually see in our feed. It’s all created an illusion that the whole big complicated messy world agrees with us. We are the masters of our own universe.
Today I am sad at the state of so very many things. I am hopeful, however, because who I am rests in the true master of the universe. I am secure, however, because my treasure is securely resting in a place where moth and dust, rust and rot, elections and political rhetoric, plunging markets and warlords cannot lay one single finger on it.
I am sad for a country that over and over and over again said “I’m voting for the lesser of two evils” and acted so very perplexed at how we got here. A gross display of our lack of self awareness is evident when we stood aghast at the ticket yesterday.
Take a look in the mirror, America 2016. Take a look at the lineup on your television and the magazines at the grocery store. I’m talking to the blue and to the red.
They are both complicit in a culture that praises greed, self indulgence and makes money on the backs and the breasts and the bodies of women … and men.
Last night one analyst in favor of Clinton said the thing many people have been saying for years “how do I explain this to my children?”
It’s the same way my mother explained things to me again and again and again as a child. Our values do not change based on what’s popular.
I will do the next right thing. Many, many people I know prayed fervently leading up to this election oft quoting this beautiful verse in Chronicles: “And My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
We want a land that is healed? If so, it didn’t end when you woke up today. It started.
The need for healing begins today. Many believers didn’t see that one coming. And today, my prayer is that they open their eyes to a watching world. Far more than the right to have an abortion or not, rising healthcare premiums or the freedom on this earth is at stake in our nation. Eternity, believer, is at stake for those who do not yet believe.
So many people were thrilled to have the election “over” without awareness of what a victory from either side would look like. Like an ax pulled back ready to fall I’ve been watching and knowing that any hurt we thought existed by the impending results was just the preview. Last night the wounding began. It didn’t end. No matter the results last night there is the wounding.
The healing doesn’t come from demanding people stand for a song or get behind who you voted for. There’s a word for that and it’s not democracy and it’s certainly not something I see in the words to God’s people in Chronicles.
If you want to radically change our political climate, our current culture, whatever button you pressed yesterday is a grain of sand on the beach.
If you want revival for our nation, it is time to do the hard thing. Like love humans the way Jesus commanded (not asked) us to do.
The greatest test of democracy is this: giving voice to those with whom you disagree. The greatest test of honor is this: accepting facts when they are inconvenient to your cause.
May America 2016 show the world that we are a place that can foster both. We never have been a country that demands we all agree on all matters. And when we become a nation that does so we won’t just “remember when” about the history of our nation … we will “remember when” we were a nation at all.