Happy fourth, I think. There doesn’t seem to be the usual festive atmosphere associated with celebrating our country’s birthday. Too much division, discord, and disagreement. The troubling thing is, no matter how old our nation becomes, there will always be a struggle with dissention. 

Or is there?

Well we’re told there is. We see it on our television, read it in our headlines, and debated on social media. They use different ways of expressing and influencing perhaps more than informing. Our media is great at sensationalizing the next news feed. We suck it up and hit social media with our own arguments, defense, or opposition.

Why do we refuse to look at something from a different perspective? We pick our talking heads and run with their thoughts. We shut out the smaller voice. The one who is taking a different view but has no voice loud enough to defend their view. We go for the popular voice. The one we can align ourselves with. The other side is wrong. So, we turn them off.

We divide. We refuse to listen.

I shared my writing goals one year, (after searching my files for ten minutes I couldn’t find what year they are from) one of them was I wanted to learn to listen. Listening is part of the conversation. We refuse to listen anymore. 

Our nation is in the midst of a struggle right now. It’s not a new struggle. Early in my life there has always been a side to take. You took your side based on the influence of something or someone. You were taught either directly or indirectly to take sides. As a nation there will always be sides to take.

Perhaps if we would just listen, the struggle wouldn’t be so great. 

Let me clarify. When we listen, it does not mean we will agree. It shouldn’t be taken either side condones the actions of the other side. Refusing to listen, or having a constructive conversation, makes the possibility of a more satisfying conclusion difficult. 

I can guarantee you as this country wrote its Declaration of Independence not every one of it’s authors agreed with every word of it. What they DID do is listen. They compromised. There were meaningful conversations.  I’m sure they knew this document wasn’t flawless. Their desire, hopes, visions, and convictions for independence caused them to work together. Having a strong declaration outweighed any one person’s personal agenda. They were united.

Right now, I’m listening. Trying my best to understand. Listening to both sides. I have writing colleagues, co-workers, and church members who I respect but have a different perspective on what’s going on in our country right now. So, I listen. I will continue to listen. With the different voices all screaming for attention, I will retreat to the reassuring and refreshing word of God.

I am told in Psalm 46: 10. Be still and know that I am God. 

This interpretation not only promotes healthy rest in the Lord, it further tells us we should acknowledge God for who He is, and what only He can do.

Though they were not perfect, I do believe the authors of our declaration rested in who He is to help start what has been considered one of the greatest countries in the world. Imperfections and all. 

So, may we listen. Have a conversation. Stop the finger pointing. Talk, not scream. Be respectful instead of belligerent. I am, and always will be, proud and thankful for The United States of America.

One nation under God. Happy birthday America.  

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