Friday, September 4, 2009


I received a link to a YouTube video--a witty piece of political satire called "The Government Can." It's set to a happy little ditty so you end up smiling and cringing at the same time. Check it out. You'll see.

Of greater concern to me are the comments people left after viewing it. It was clear we are an increasingly divided people right now, and not just about how the left or right will handle the nation's problems, but about what we want in general, and who we want to be as a people.

It's not a new concern. At seventeen, I was a liberal-minded political hopeful who believed, like Phil Donahue, that we could spread a checkered tablecloth out on the White House lawn, invite men like Castro and Khadafi to a picnic summit, and all would be solved. I also believed that politicians, soldiers and police officers all believed in God, recited the Pledge of Allegiance and said their prayers every day. In short, I believed in the innate goodness of all people.

I still do. Most of us do.

Most of us want a world without poverty, pain or crime. A world where peace reigns and harmony allows us to fully embrace our diversity and differences. But a few want more.

History--the kind in books and the kind we experience daily--tells us that where great good exists, so does its opposite. And it confronts us in many ways--in brilliant charisma, in brutal power, with its hand outstretched in need, and sometimes with its hand outstretched seemingly in friendship.

It can be so confusing. And that, it seems, is where good people become so divided on the issue of caring for our fellowman. The question then--the great sifter--is this. What do we want to be as a people? As the old adage goes, do we want to be a nation of fishers, or a nation receiving doled out fish? For those who believe we are made in God's image, we believe it is our divine nature to progress, to work, to achieve, to fail, to learn, and then to grow, while succoring the needy, lifting the downtrodden and bettering the world. We were not meant to be crippled by limitations or penned up for our own good.

We were meant to stumble, catch ourselves and run.

It's an ancient dilemma. I think back to the children of Israel who cried, begged, pled and wearied the Lord to be free. And then, when Moses came in the power of the Lord, leading them out of bondage, not even the many miracles they beheld could stiffen their back sufficiently to prevent them from whining about the work freedom would require. Instead, they thought back fondly on the fleshpots of Egypt.

History reminds us that freedom costs.

I've spent years now, researching and marvelling over the courage of the Founding Fathers and their families. They pledged "our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honors" to further the cause of freedom. We are the lazy heirs of their sacrifice, but look around the world at nations just realizing the cost. Remember the courage of the student who stood before a tank in Tienanmen Square in China? Or the bloody masses in rising up after the elections in Iran?

What are we willing to sacrifice?

Still, discord is like a harrow, ripping open holes in the earth into which stray seeds can fall. And some of the seeds taking root right now, conservative though they may seem, are too radical, too angry, too worrisome.

I keep thinking about a scripture from the Book of Mormon, "Oh, be wise . . ."

I'm most hopeful about the call to fast and pray on September 11th. We need the ever-sure help of the Lord right now. Again, referring to scripture, I am reminded of the many times the people finally realized they needed His help, humbling themselves and calling upon His guidance.

I hope we're there.

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