Yesterday I was dragged down the rabbit hole of Twitter craziness. It’s hard in that moment to remember that most Americans are not the twitter mob. Most of us are too busy working, playing, and living in the real world to waste time arguing with someone about whether Mount Rushmore should be blown up. Yes, that was a real argument that I engaged in for a few minutes before muting the idiot.
We are two days out from celebrating the Fourth of July. This year’s celebration will be different. We won’t be going to any parades or to any fireworks shows. We might buy a few fireworks to shoot off out of town. This year, more than any before, I’ve been reflecting on my nation and her tumultuous and violent past. Born in the fires of revolution and created in the wild and lawless west, this nation has been anything but tame and civilized. We call ourselves a nation of immigrants, but in reality, we are a nation of refugees. We, for the most part, are a motley collection of people who have dared hope that a better life is possible. We left nations where religious, political, and economic oppression were a way of life. My refugee forefathers and mothers had to hide their bibles, shut their mouths, and conform to social norms or risk being executed for vague crimes like treason, witchcraft, and heresy. I read yesterday about a priest who was convicted of treason and he was hung by his foot for a day while he was mocked by the crowds. After this public torture and humiliation, he was executed. That was in France. If people didn’t show up to jeer and spit on the victim, they were considered to be guilty too and may be subject to the same treatment. That was the life my ancestors decided wasn’t for them.
But, unfortunately, they brought many of the toxic attitudes and behaviors with them to their new home. It was the only life they ever knew, so what else would they do? It took time before the superstitions of witchcraft were rejected. It took time before we stopped jailing people for being the wrong religion. Eventually, we decided that we needed to put our differences aside and make a single nation that could shove off the yoke of tyranny that threatened to follow us from Europe. Slavery was one of the hardest of the old world habits to reject. In fact, the damage of that terrible collective sin have followed us ever since. And now, more than ever before, our national consciousness has been awakened to the reality that not everyone who came here had a choice. Not everyone had a better life when they reached our shores. Some of them arrived in chains and lived in abuse and dehumanization. Some of our brothers and sisters of color still face extraordinary challenges in this country.
As I see my Twitter feed showing strange juxtaposition of images. Some of Lincoln, and some of the confederate generals and leaders memorialized in stone. Some of angry black faces twisted in pain, and some defiant angry white faces holding the stars and bars of the confederacy. Our old wounds are being exploited by our enemies who see a second civil war as a way to cripple us on the world stage. China, Russia, Iran, and others want to use the inexperience and hubris of our president to humiliate us. They want to consume us with self-doubt and shame about our history.
In my own life, Satan has tried to do this same thing. He wants me to feel captive to my past sins. He wants me to lose hope and faith in my ability to change, repent, and embrace a better future without the weight of past sins. He wants me to be ashamed of myself, of my family, and of where I came from. He doesn’t want me to embrace faith in my Savior’s redeeming power, the hope that my experiences will be turned to my benefit, and the charity that enables me to see all of God’s children as valuable and worthy of love.
The truth is, redemption is possible. Our nation has faced challenges in the past and we have met them with rational policies to solve those problems. Our medical professionals, our intelligence professionals, our state department officials, and our political leaders (especially at the state and local level), are for the most part very good and honorable people. They don’t want to enslave us. They work hard to give us the tools to solve the serious problems we face. It is time for us to stop fighting each other and start seeing who the real enemy is.
The enemy is ignorance; the determination of many not to be conscious of the problems we face. The enemy is disinformation; the careful cultivation of false narratives created by political parties to demonize groups of our citizens for their own benefit. The enemy is foreign influence campaigns; the spreading of lies about our nation, its founding, its role in blessing the world, and the vital importance of our influence to improve human rights today. The solution is, as it has always been, to come to Him who is Mighty to Save.
He quiets the voices of extremism. He helps us see others not as enemies, but as brothers and sisters. He reveals the source of the problems we see and the concrete steps we can take to improve the situation within our sphere of influence. He calms our fearful minds and leads us to faith and courageous action. We are not the sins of our fathers. There is forgiveness and redemption as we come unto him.
Come Unto Jesus
By Orson Pratt Huish
Come unto Jesus, ye heavy laden,
Careworn and fainting, by sin oppressed.
He’ll safely guide you, unto that haven,
Where all who trust Him may rest, may rest.
Come unto Jesus, he’ll ever heed you,
Though in the darkness, you’ve gone astray.
His love will find you, and gently lead you,
From darkest night into day, today.
Come unto Jesus, He’ll surely hear you,
If you in meekness, plead for his love.
Oh know you not that angels are near you,
From brightest mansions above, above?
Come unto Jesus, from every nation,
From every land and isle of the sea.
Unto the high and lowly in station,
Ever he calls, “Come to me, to me.”
No matter what our past has been, he can turn it to our benefit. There is no person born on this Earth that is beyond his compassion and power to save. If there is racism in us, let us repent. If there is hatred in us, let us repent. If there is pride in us, let us repent. Let it end today. Let it be swallowed up in His marvelous atonement. Satan would have us ashamed of our past, but the Savior would have us glory in the future of our redemption. There is enough and to spare if we come to Him; the well of living water; the one who multiplied the loaves and fishes; the one who made the lame to walk and the blind to see. He can heal us! Let us Come Unto Him.