The Political Speech I Want To Hear

great-speakers

Great speeches sink into our souls and linger in our bones. The best writers and orators know how to move our emotions into actions. They convict, inspire, and drive us to move.

Most of the speeches I hear to day are mere rhetoric; empty shells of hollow words meant to anger our enemies, pacify our critics, and satisfy our friends. This is a low bar to reach and a boring one.

The political speech I want to hear invites (healthy) conflict and dialogue. The political speech I want to hear challenges me to think more deeply, to love more courageously, and to admit I don’t know. The political speech I want to hear goes something like this:

Not long ago, a motley band of misfits set out in hopes of creating a new life for themselves. They faced persecution and made the courageous decision to flee. We still see their faces around the world today.

They embraced uncertainty and risked their lives for their children’s children’s children. We are those children. We stand on the shoulders of unnamed giants lost to the anonymity of history. Though their names are forgotten, their bodies long decayed, their sacrifices live on in our blood.

These misfits disagreed on much, but they were united in their quest for something greater than themselves. They were united in their quest for something greater than the world had ever seen.

In the journey for survival, greatness was born. It was forged in battle and nurtured in heartache. Good men died fighting for dreams never realized. Families were torn apart in a war against ourselves and we were faced, once again, with the thought of “will we survive?”

In our darkest times, we forgot that all men are created equal. We denied the humanity of our people and we paid the price; a price we still pay today.

We will not be able to make amends this side of heaven, for what justice can their be for enslavement, rape and murder? Still, we remember and we will fight to right the wrongs we face today – imprisonment, education, rape, and murder.

When we think of the Hassan’s and the Abboud’s and fear rises in our bones, we remember when it was the O’Kelly’s and O’hare’s we feared. We will not confuse peace and harmony with safety and security. To be a refuge, we must accept the refugee.

We will fight; fight to protect our borders and the values dear to us. We remember those who have died to protect these values of freedom, speech, and religion. We will fight the lie that the danger is only outside of us.

We will fight the evil that harms women and children. We will fight the wicked who seek harm and not prosperity; those who use women and children as shields and objects of war. We will take the fight to them so they cannot bring it to us.

We will hold seemingly opposing ideas together and fight for unity, though the force of these oppositions will threaten to break us apart. We will love the refugee and hate the perpetrator who made them flee. We will love women, all women, and stand for their right for life; be they Syrian, elderly, or unborn.

We will disagree with our neighbors and defend their rights to believe it. We will fight to protect those who disagree with us because freedom is greater than homogeneity.

To the villains who use violence to threaten or intimidate others, your time is up – be it in nightclubs, churches, mosques, or abortion clinics; we will not rest until we see justice. We will uphold the values of justice and mercy even when the force of them together threatens to rip us apart.

We, the people, of the United States will stand united in the face of tyranny and oppression; whether they come from within or outside. We have hope because we find our courage runs deeper than our fear.

If You Say You Are Pro-Life

Throughout history there are a few moments that truly changed the course of the world. The invention of the wheel, Pax Romana, and the declaration of the Magna Carta are a few such events.

In 1215, for the first time in history, a governed people demanded and assumed certain rights given to them by God, not the king.

562 years later, following this same logic, the founders of the United States of American declared independence and began a revolution that changed the understanding of government and human rights forever.

Life. Liberty. Pursuit of Happiness. To the founders, these ideals were unalienable – unable to be taken away or removed from the possessor. Most of us would say we support these ideals. We want healthy kids, social mobility, freedom of religion, choice, guns, and speech. Yet far too often, we want freedom when it works for us. We want liberty for us. We want life for us and those we care about.

If we say we are pro-life then we have to care for unborn lives. We cannot take away the life of a child because it is inconvenient for another person.

If we say we are pro-life then we have to care for the teen mothers,  mothers addicted to crack,  fathers dealing drugs and their children. We have to act on behalf of kids in foster care. We have to be willing to get messy, dirty, and hurt. Being pro-life means caring for all lives-including the ones we would rather not.

If we say we are pro-life then we have to care about the 14-year-old girl with an unwanted pregnancy. Should she abort the baby? Should she place her in foster care with a waiting list of over 200 needed families in one county in SC alone? Should she try to raise him herself? Should she go on welfare? What would you do?

If we say we are pro-life then we have to care for the immigrant and refugee. We have to welcome the refugees with open arms into our abundance. We have to be willing to lose so others will gain. Our fear cannot overpower our faith.

If we say we are pro-life then we have to care about black men incarcerated at a rate of 6x greater than white men. We have to fight against a penal system that seeks not justice, but punishment and often assumes guilt, not innocence.

If we say we are pro-life then we have to care about the child being bullied because he is gay. We must teach our children that to differ in opinion is not an excuse for violence, hatred, or separation. We are to defend those who cannot defend themselves; even when we disagree.

If we say we are pro-life then we must care about the men and women on death row. We cannot decry the killing of a life in one scenario and then celebrate it in another.

If we say we are pro-life then we must care for the weak, the poor, the immigrant, and the orphan. To do so means we will lose. We will lose strength supporting those weaker than us. We will lose money to provide for those poorer than us. We will lose resources to welcome an immigrant with merely the clothes on their back. We will lose sleep caring for children not our own.

If we say we are pro-life then our own lives should reflect our beliefs. In a world of political black and white, we must embrace the gray. Caring for life is never easy. It is most often inconvenient, disruptive, and difficult. There is little tangible reward, great pain and many unknown answers.

Caring for 6 month old twins in foster care is not easy, but it is good.
Bringing a teenage mother into your home is not convenient, but it is right.
Welcoming a refugee into your community is not glamorous, but it is merciful.

If we say we are pro-life then we can’t just yell and protest with friends. We can’t just vote for the guy who promises to make America great again or promises to bring us back to the good ol’ days (spoiler alert: taxes were a lot higher then). We must act in the unseen places; bedrooms at 2am to nurse a hungry child not our own, recovery centers where no instagram filter will make reality look better,  the housing projects alongside rats where the most recent immigrants are eking out life. It won’t be pretty, but it will be right.

 

Love Wins.

In writing this piece, I know I will disappoint, frustrate and anger many people. Still, I hope you find compassion and love here. I am not writing for those who agree with me, I already know your thoughts, but for those who disagree. You’re probably busy celebrating right now – a sensible response, but maybe you’ll take the time to reflect with me.

Today marks a historic day for the United States of America. Today, our Supreme Court, the highest court in the land, voted to forbid states from banning same-sex marriage. It is a rare treat to be a part of memorable history. We know our children’s children will learn this date in school. The implications of our actions will be felt long after we are gone. Today, we belong to something greater than ourselves.

We know the Court’s function is to uphold and represent the original intentions of the Constitution. But how can you uphold an intent that was never conceived? The justices have the unenviable task of wading these waters on a regular basis, and not just with regard to same-sex marriage. Like everyone, they are subject to their cultural, historical, educational, familial and other biases. The decision today is, in my opinion, more a reflection of modern culture than an attempt to uphold historical intentions. Popular opinion is a fickle mistress and today she and I disagree.

In reviewing several articles already circulating in the news, one line has struck me again and again. Justice Kennedy, in his majority opinion, stated: “No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family,” he wrote. “In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were.”

I agree wholeheartedly with his statement. No union is more profound than marriage. Marriage is the embodiment of the highest ideals. In marital union, two people become something greater than once they were – they become one. Justice Kennedy, we agree.

My question is, however, why? What is so fundamental in marriage, what is the essence, that makes marriage so unique? Why is marriage different than dating?

I cannot fully answer this question myself with a checklist or simple solution. Marriage is a mystery. It is a mysterious reflection of a greater union between Christ and His Bride, the Church. Just like a statue is a reflection of the great man (or woman) who once lived, so marriage is unique because it represents something greater than itself. We don’t remember the statue, we remember who the statue represents.

Marriage is given to us by our Creator and as such, is defined by Him alone. Despite the appearance otherwise, no individual, court, or state can define marriage. In restricting marriage to one man and one woman we represent greater diversity. In marriage we see the full reflection of God – male and female – created in His image.

By limiting marriage to Biblical standards, we are not trying to limit fundamental rights or attempt to crush anyone’s identity. I know that sounds like foolishness, but bear with me. Yes, to those who desire to marry a member of the same sex, I would restrict your freedom. However, all of us operate under some level of restrictions. No parent would argue it is beneficial to place no limits on your child’s desires – even genuine heartfelt desires. However, by maintaining the Biblical view of marriage we continue to affirm the dignity of all, male and female. We affirm each of us is necessary to reflect the full image of God. We teach ourselves that we are not defined solely by our sexual identity. Or any other identity, for that matter. We have an identity that is supreme above all – we are image bearers of God. This identity is not dependent upon our actions, the courts, our desires, or ourselves. It is given to us by virtue of our Creator without any merit on our part.

When we find ourselves frustrated by the limitations on us as created beings, we remember the God who limited his ultimate freedom and restricted himself to become a son of man, a human in all our limitations, to rescue us from our greatest need. We were condemned to death and we have been given a chance for new life through his death on the cross to pay for our sins and his resurrection and defeat of death.

To come back to the initial question, why is marriage unique? What is its essence? Marriage is unique because God made it unique. In unfathomable love, God created a way for traitors, haters, murderers, liars, and bigots to be made right. In doing so, He gave nothing less than Himself. His commitment is demonstrated in part through the mysterious union of a man and a woman coming together in a unique way through which they become greater than themselves.

The essence of marriage is the unwavering, unfaltering, unending commitment of God to his people reflected in the unwavering, unfaltering, unending commitment of one man and one woman to each other through marriage.

Today, our nation disagrees. The beauty of being an American is we can disagree. Those of us who are disappointed must remember our hope lies not in the American court system or with any human power, be they just or unjust, but in the God who will one day make all things right – love will win.

(Don’t) Fight like a Girl – My Thoughts on Women in Combat

female-troop

Photo Courtesy of IBTimes

The old me would hate this, but…

Again and again I find myself repeating this phrase. Over the past couple of weeks, my mind has been racing with the new (and old) implications of legislation such as Roe v. Wade and now, women in combat.

I’ll admit, there is a part of me that is fascinated by the idea of Army Rangers, Navy SEALS, and the like. I’ve watched several documentaries on the SEALS, I’ve seen Act of Valor at least 4 times, and sometimes I imagine how I would respond if I were in a war-time situation. There was even a brief time when I considered attending West Point. Many of my ideas are romanticized, but there is a part of me that longs to be tested and found worthy, to be faced with death and fight bravely, to sacrifice myself for the weak and powerless; all qualities embodied in combat missions.

I struggle with this new legislation allowing women to fight in combat positions because there is a part of me that wants this for me, but there is another part of me I don’t fully understand yet that can’t imagine this.

I’ve been blessed to grow up, live, and work in an environment where men are (over) protective of women. Where I am treated with honor and respect. Where I know men would die to protect me. I am safe. I am able to thrive because of this. I do not want to live in a world where men no longer protect women.

I laugh sometimes because I am usually caught off guard when a guy makes an inappropriate comment to me in public because it is so out of the norm. I’m not used to worrying about men who cross that kind of line. Yet, I am acutely aware of the times when I have felt most vulnerable physically; almost every time involves me being alone in a situation with a man who could overpower me-in a parking garage, hotel hallway, or on a sidewalk at night, for example. It is a miserable and terrifying feeling. I am a fit woman. I can almost always tell you which object in a room I would grab first to defend myself. I’d like to think I would put up a good fight. The reality, however, is I live day-to-day knowing that 50% of the population could hurt me if they truly wanted. I could fight to scare them away or not to lose, but I cannot win. All of the training in the world will not change the reality that I am shorter, lighter, and my bones are weaker than most men.

Aside from the physical limitations, the reality is that men and women are different. Equality does not mean sameness. A butter knife and a butcher knife are both equally knives, but they are different. As a woman my brain, hormones, and chemicals are different from a man. I feel emotion and process information differently. This is a good thing. I am better suited for some situations than a man would be and this is OK. Men and women together reflect the full image of God.

I am still working all of this out in my head. I welcome your thoughts. I’ve never been in the military so I am drawing from second-hand information at best. There are people more qualified than me to speak on this topic – here are some of the articles I’ve found most thought provoking.

Perspective from a female marine

From Denny Burk

Official White House Statement

Broad Support for Combat Roles for Women

America, the Poor Reflection of What Will One Day be Beautiful

Above photos: Fireworks in Allendale, SC

…And a happy 5-days-after-fourth-of-July to you too! I spent the past week in Allendale, SC. If you don’t go to Grace, then you probably haven’t heard of Allendale. What was I doing in this small town, you might ask? Well, I was chillin’ with 60 of my closest middle school friends! duh.

While in Allendale, I had the privilege of attending one of the local churches. Now I grew up a good ol’ southern baptist girl so I’ve sung God Bless America, Navy drinking songs (though I don’t think many people knew they were old drinking songs because we all know those Southern Baptists do not approve of the fermented fruit of the vine!), and celebrated the fourth of July in patriotic style at church. It never really bothered me too much until this year; perhaps because I haven’t thought about it. This year, however, I was increasingly disturbed by the lack of God-focus and overt America-focus in church.

Now, before I continue, I’ll confess that although I enjoy living in America and I recognize that I have been incredibly blessed to experience the freedoms that I do; however, I do not think that America is the greatest nation on earth. In fact, sometimes I think that America is a huge distraction. I’m learning that authority and limitations are a good thing. The more freedom that I have, the more opportunities for me to elevate something, even a good thing, into a god-thing.

Obedience has not often been a pleasant tasting word in my mouth. In fact, though I am the oldest child, I have a much greater propensity for breaking the rules and crossing the line than my younger sister. I did not understand that in wanting unlimited freedom I wanted to be god. Rules and authority are not good because they are ensuring my best interest is at hand, but because they are a reminder that I am not my own. I am not even capable of depending on myself. In fact, I even let myself down. A lot. Talk about depressing.

No, what is really surprising is that with rules and authority come freedom. I am free to thrive because I don’t have to be, do, or strive to accomplish everything. I can fail, epically, and it is OK because I’m not god. The world is not resting on my shoulders. The problems of this world are not mine to fix. Nor can I. The suffocating feeling of being overwhelmed is a not-so-subtle reminder that the world is not mine to fix. Poverty, economic depression, sexuality, you name it, are all going to be perfect one day. Now, the really cool thing and exciting thing is that I get to be a part of it all, within boundaries and under authority – both human and divine. I actually get to be a tiny splinter of a miniscule cog in the whole process. And I’m ecstatic about that!

I guess what I am saying is that my hope is not in me. It is not in my generation or getting back to the good old days. America and democracy are not the answers. Thank goodness. Slavery, abortion, homosexuality, any hot button issue are not the problem – a lack and distortion of worship is. This year, as we reminisce on the fireworks, food, and those who have given their lives to bring us freedom; let’s also remember the future to come – a future under supreme authority, but with perfect freedom.