Back in 2011, it didn’t rain. It didn’t rain for a long, long time. It didn’t rain for so long that fires began to pop up where I live.
One of them popped up near where our oldest son lived, which also wasn’t very far from where we live.
It reminded me of the extremely delicate balance that’s required for all of us to live what we consider a ‘normal’ life. Our normal life was upended and replaced by fear.
I prayed that if God would let it rain, I would never complain about rain again.
Over several weeks of the past few months, my promise was tested.
It rained. It rained for a long, long time. It rained for so long that large amounts of water began to flood where I live.
It reminded me how easy it is for each of us to complain or gripe about things that we have absolutely no control over.
Watching the news, I see people losing their minds over things, but they are things that they absolutely do have control over.
Everyone has the ability to control how they act.
Those who don’t like the politicians in power stand in the streets and scream, or do TV interviews where they discuss doing harmful things to the politicians.
Some of these same people, celebrities in some cases, were visited by the Secret Service because of the things they said.
My momma at least taught me well enough to not say things in public that would get me a visit from the Secret Service.
One recently elected congresswoman use extreme profanity on camera regarding her dislike for the president.
It seemed less extreme, but wasn’t much different when the last guy was president. The people who didn’t like him talked of the impending doom that would come because he was in charge.
Chain mail used to be passed around through the Postal Service. Today, similar material is passed around on social media.
The principal was the same with a letter in the mailbox as it is now with an instant message on Facebook. “Share this, or the world as we know it will end. Break the chain, and it’ll be all your fault.”
The end didn’t come when the last guy ran the country. It likely won’t end with the current guy, either.
I truly believe that we are our own worst enemy when it comes to enjoying life.
“Everything in life has its place,” the older folks in my family used to say when I was a child.
And that was how they lived their lives. Family time and work time had their places, civic involvement had its time, and church and politics had theirs.
But, the balance of those areas of life was kept in check by how much of each we discussed with others. My parents freely discussed most things, but religion and politics were considered personal decisions.
“Never discuss politics or religion,” the older folks in my family used to also say.
That meant with people inside or outside the family.
I can remember many discussions about which church someone else attended and how their beliefs didn’t match our own, but those discussions took place at the supper table within the walls of our house.
It never would have been considered appropriate to chastise someone else for where they worshipped, and it certainly was considered taboo to ask someone else who they voted for.
It was none of our business, anymore than who we voted for was theirs.
But 24/7 news and 24/7 social media have changed that. Some of the things that people say to folks they claim to care about can be pretty shocking. And it’s ruining lifelong friendships, relationships, and our ability to get along as a nation.
I’m always amused when one minute, I see a Bible verse on someone’s Facebook page, and a few minutes later they’re cursing someone over politics.
The odds of anyone changing anyone else’s mind about politics or religion are, and always have been, almost nil.
And now, people have joined factions. Just like a pack of animals that run and attack together, they watch, listen to, and read, only what they agree with. This feeds their social media commenting – alienating, sometimes forever, friends and family members.
And it’s all so preventable.
Many of our universities have become extreme, only allowing one type of thought to be expressed on campus. News channels are extreme. One side of the news is highlighted, not both.
I’ve worked in and around the media since I was 16 years old. I started out working on our high school newspaper and annual. Shortly after that, I worked in radio for 25 years. I was taught that a reporter’s job was to go out, document what you saw and heard, and come back and report that. But that basic level of reporting is all but gone now.
Stories get twisted to fit an ideology, rather than relayed with just the facts.
On June 16, 1858, Abraham Lincoln stood before 1,000 delegates in the statehouse in Springfield, Illinois, at the Republican State Convention. There, he gave his famous, “A house divided against itself cannot stand,” speech.
Those listening were familiar with this because it was Jesus who said it first in three of the Gospels. The version in Matthew 12, Verse 25, says, “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand.”
And, so it is, I believe, with our country.
His colleagues thought that Lincoln’s reference in his speech was courageous, but politically incorrect.
Lincoln responded: “I want to use some universally known figure, expressed in simple language as universally known, that it may strike home to the minds of men in order to rouse them to the peril of the times.”
It doesn’t look like much has changed since 1858. But if each of us is willing to changes ourselves, we can stop dividing our house before it falls.
©2019 John Moore
John’s book Write of Passage: A Southerner’s View of Then and Now, is available on Amazon.
Email John at John@TheCountryWriter.com.